01 March 2012

Parting the Red Sea ~ by Nosrek

Opening Strategy: Parting the Red Sea

General Overview:
Parting the red sea is an opening strategy implemented first during deployment and is continued through your first few turns. This strategy has one main purpose, to give a melee oriented army a way to safely deliver its caster and battle group to the enemy. Following this strategy will allow you to jam your enemy, cover your flanks, and give your battle group a certain level of protection. This strategy will also give you the most options possible in terms of order of activation. Trolls are known to pull off some amazing combo's, however it can be hard to achieve those combo's if your order of activation is thrown off.

Here is a picture to give you a visual of what your trying to achieve

The water is the enemy, your tarpit unit are the forces that hold the water at bay, moses and the
pilgrims are your battle group. However, in this instance your not running away, your carving your
way to the enemies core.

Deployment: The faux brick

The picture is worth a thousand words. My opponents first reaction to my deployment is, "A Fennblade brick?". And essentially it is, so 'lock and battle group get on the front line and my tarpit of choice is broken into two groups. Now in the case of the fennblades put the drummer where you feel comfortable, he is going to be hanging out in the back anyway. Solo's line up behind the battle group ready to move up and throw buffs around.

I will later expand on deployment tactics with KW's, they are a bit more tricky due to 1" less of command and three more bodies, however with the right caster I believe KW's can yield some greater results with this strategy.

Turn 1: The chipped spear

Order of activation:

1. Fenns, I take the two inner fennblades who are on the deployment line and shoot them 12" out. I place about 4" +- 1/4" between these two. This means you have to kill one of the fennblades before your can charge through the gap. I use the two outer fenns who started on the deployment line to move b2b to block line of sight to the 'lock. From here on I just try to move the bodies in such a way that they would still have line of sight to a charge target the following turn. If I am up against more shooting, I will of course have tale of mist up and I may hold some of the fenns back more to deny range. If I am up against a melee list, charge of the trolls is ready and I force my opponent to kill a fennblade if they want to charge into a gap to get a beast or solo.

Another pick with reach being displayed.

2. The 'lock, move your lock up and throw out any spells needed. I do the 'lock second in case I left some type of line of sight open after my fennblade movement. I am really only concerned about this if I am up against some heavy shooting or a particularly nasty spell.

3. Beasts, run your beasts roughly 8" forward, perhaps more if you need to block some line of sight. The idea is to be able to put the beast in a position where after vengence or deaths you can easily charge something if needed.

4. Solo's, let your solo's buff and try to put them in a place where its hard for your enemy to pick them off. Many of my opponents love killing the fell caller or ssc quickly.

For point of reference, everyone is still in Borka's control area, and I am only using 10" of my command right now.

So we can see that turn 1 is all about 4-6 fennblades eating dirt if things go really bad, or your opponent has some serious range and lots of ammo. If I went first, I will typically lose 1-3 fenns, if I went second (which i love going second) I lose 2-4 fenns.

Now from this point forward you will either move forward and reform with the remainder of the tarpit unit, or go for a big counter punch. Only your hard won battle tactics can tell you what to do next. Just keep in mind your have lots of tarpit left and your ultimate goal is to deliver a warbeast or warlock to the enemy battle group.

I feel the greatest strength this opening has is freedom of movement. Thanks to the fennblades vengence and how the army is deployed when turn 2 comes I am free to start with whatever model I want. You can vengence the two fenns blocking the 'lock out of the way and allow your lock to go first. You can charge a target with your axer, pop charge of the trolls, and pile some fennblades on if you really needed to kill something on that side of the board.

What this comes down to is a basic form of the space advantage theory, which I will soon create a post for, except the space I am referencing here is my own side of the board. It can be very difficult dealing with an all medium base army, but this opening really allows us to use our medium bases to our own advantage.

Why you should at least try it:
Just like chess, if you use the same opening every game you will become predictable. This is why it is so easy to beat a computer at chess. Once you learn the tactics and strategies the computer uses you can easily predict and out manuveur. If nothing else, I ask you to try this strategy just to see the reaction of your opponent. Obviously this strategy will not work for every list, this is meant for melee oriented armies who want their caster and battle group in the enemies face.

Casters ChoicesPrime Grissel, Queen of the Red SeaHow does the caster enhance the strategy?Grissel gives two things that directly enhance this strategy. First she gives you a chance to fine tune your tarpit's position via Hoof it. Second she gives you a way to fill a gap made by the opponent, on the opponents turn via Hallowed Avenger. This is extremely powerful because right when it seems like your wall will spring a leak, she gives one more chance to hold the tide back.

How does the caster benefit from the strategy?When I first started playing Grissel I was really weary about getting her too close the action. All the guides I read on her pretty much said if your within 8" of an enemy to cast calamity on it, your in risky territory. This led me to believe she is a mid-range warlock. However, if you look at her stat card she needs to be within 8-12" of the meat and potatoes of your enemy's army to use the majority of her abilities. You are truly selling Grissel short if your just using her to pass out a heroic ballad and throw an animus onto a model.

With that said Grissel gains the ability to play as she is meant to be played with this strategy. I love tempting the enemy by having my caster so close, some people get so excited about the possibility of a caster kill that they make a mistake I can later capitalize on. If Grissel and her battle group are in the thick of things she really shines, she can pop a model KD from hero's tragedy with Calamity, she can throw her fell calls out to even her AD units. One of the best things is you can truly grasp how good rift can be if your actually close enough to something to use it on your terms. A four inch patch of rough terrain can be exactly what you need to set up an offensive or defensive combo.

Which tarpit does the caster prefer?Grissel has no preference really. The preference is all about the players play style. Fennblades serve her well and are easier to use in this strategy. It almost becomes silly how easy things can be between hoof it, vengeance, and Hallowed Avenger. Kriel Warriors become extremely effective in this strategy with Grissel. With hoof it you can really fine tune their positioning and ensure minimal loses. Kriel warriors give your more bodies, more bodies means your can keep the strategy going a bit longer, it just might buy you one more turn. I find Grissel runs a pretty scary melee intensive list with KW's and an Earthborn Dire Troll. I give the earthborn a caber escort whose job is to ensure the EBDT has a pow 7 weapon close at hand if need be. Cabers also give a new way for Grissel to easily land a calamity spell. The key with kw's and Grissel is to use hoof it to ensure on your following turn you can still chose your order of activation without making sacrifices, meaning set them up so you won't have to activate a piece sooner than you want, just to get it out of the way. If you can master this, the number of combos you can pull off will amaze you i.e. Fervor + Charge of the Trolls + Calamity + a Caber = mat 11 pow 19 swings (yes swings thanks to heroic ballad) per caber and that's without a true damage buff. This is surprisingly easy to pull off if you can activate your battle group before your infantry.

Final ThoughtsWhile reading guides and strategies with Grissel it seemed like it would take a miracle to pull off calamity. Same was true for charge of the trolls. One of the main reasons I wanted to put this strategy out there was to help other newer players find ways to pull off some of these great combo's. I am sure many of the experienced players have come across ways to pull these off, but in my research I was unable to find a strategy or guide.

Prime Grissel, Queen of the Red Sea can give you the tools you need to see how frightening (for your opponent) troll synergy can be.

Jarl, master of deception, and where **** did that come from shenanigansJust wanted to start something on Jarl since I got my first game in with him. I will later form these ramblings into the proper format.

I ran Jarl in a 35 pt game using KW's as my tarpit unit. First thing I will say, is turn 1 moving your tarpit 16-19" (19" if you chose to override Quicken by using the Runebearer to give your tarpit Tactical supremacy, it can be good in the right situation but losing the quicken upkeep hurts) is amazing.

My initial deployment went well, and I only lost 4 kriels to the charge making 0 tough rolls. Even though it was my first game using him, I am seeing ways to use him more effectively. I pop'd his feat to do some movement shenanigans and to magic bullet a necro-surgeon to keep the mcthralls dead. I misjudged my swift hunter move and left Jarl hanging to dry with only one KW and 2 transfers blocking the charge lane. Needless to say the mistake cost me the game.

So with that background, I am seeing Jarl gives you two ways to do your turn 1.

If you go first, you can storm up the field, jarl can quicken the tarpit and charge forward 9", tarpit forms the chipped spear around the battle group. Then if your opponent is shooting a lot turn 2 you can put clouds in front of their gun line, charge your tarpit forward into the clouds to kill a few shooters off, then the Runebearer can tactical supremacy the tarpit to pull them behind the clouds (if your feel the clouds are better protection than the +2 def). If your opponent has charged you with a melee unit, you can position the clouds to open up possibilities for order of activation. With the right order of activation you can kill off the front line of chargers, and be positioned defensively thanks to the clouds to deliver a hard counter punch turn 3.

If you go second, Jarl can Quicken the tarpit, advance 6" and feat. You know top of 2 your opponent will tear into you, but Jarl allows your to minimize the damage even further by blocking line or sight and shutting down charges. You lose the cool movement tricks with the clouds, but at least your army is still intact, and with a tarpit moving 16" your sure to set your self up for a good charge when your turn comes around.

So far my initial thoughts with jarl are, he enhances the strategy by giving you one round of minimized damage to your tarpit, and maximized damage to your enemy. He really helps out your survival rate when facing nasty gunlines, which is a big plus for trolls.

I will need a few more games with him to get a better grasp of how he utilizes this strategy, something tells me Mulg will be a great addition.

​Borka, drain all hopeHow does the caster enhance the strategy?
Iron Flesh is the greatest thing he offers to this strategy. This allows our mediocre infantry to become a serious pain in the *** to remove from the table. Borka holds back the waves like no other caster, essentially he turns the waves to ice. The second greatest thing he brings to this strategy is his feat. His feat coupled with the freedom regarding order of activation means he can move his entire army up the board faster than many opponents would think. An EBDT with rush is now charging/trampling 12" without rough terrain.

How does the caster benefit from the strategy?This one is obvious, Borka and his giant cod piece want to smash things, this strategy allows him to do just that. I originally built this strategy around Borka, this was my way of getting Borka upfield to kill something instead of standing back and buffing/feating. Often times the game will end by Borka getting topped off and war cry'd, casting mosh pit, feating, and charging 11" boosting a mat 9 pow 15 swing until he hits, once he does, the Axer or heavy comes in to clean up the kill.
Borka really likes freedom of movement, and with the fennblades around him to hold back the waves, amazing things can happen; Borka can throw bombs, make the most of mosh pit, make the most of his feat, and most importantly charge things and kill them. Borka is a simple brute the only combos you need to pull off are defensive ones, and those are simple. I recommend players wanting to give this strategy a shot, start with Borka. Drain all hope, that is what happens to my opponents when Borka hits the table and I use this strategy. I stopped playing Borka at my lgs due to this. Many players call broken when they have to deal with the near unkillable infantry screen, and near unkillable caster (if your luck is with you).

Which tarpit does the caster prefer?
Fennblades with UA, for two reasons.

1. Defensive line, the extra defense on the charge makes them that much more of a pain in the ***
2. Terror, because one day it might actually break a unit and that day will be glorious.

Fennblades have the great advantage of vengeance, this allows Borka to have total freedom of movement, one minute he can have two fenns blocking line of sight to him, the next the fenns have vengeance'd out of the way. To top it off their superior threat range and the amount of space they consume pushes them over the top for best choice.

I will say though that in some situations the KW's will serve you better. If your building a more balanced list with more support models and less heavy beasts, the KW's become very attractive because of their UA's no knockdown ability. You can certainly brick it up with Borka and play a tighter KW formation, using the ksb, iron flesh, and the chronicler to make life hell for your opponent.

Final ThoughtsAs I said before Borka is a simple brute. This strategy allows him to plow forward in a near unkillable state and lay down some pain on your opponent. I hope that at least one player reading this gives Borka a shot using this strategy.

Tarpit Tactica

Fennblades and UA
When first attempting this strategy I strongly suggest you use fennblades. This tarpit gives you 12 bodies and a 12" command area making it fairly easy to position them. Thanks to reach each body can cover ~5.5" of the board (except the drummer). This means 4-6 (6 if your opponent has fast flankers) fennblades can easily cover your front and both flanks. Since a small base model is 1.18" you can have ~5" between each fennblade if they are side by side, and ~4" if the fennblades are staggered.

I would like to point out that you can measure the command range from the unit commander to a grunt at any time during the units activation. Try to find ways to use this to your advantage. Some people are great with judging distances, but for me it took lots of repetition.

The amount of space a fennblade can occupy is really great and all, but this may not be their greatest quality. With vengence the fennblades can change their position before any of your activation's have to start. Vengence has one weakness in that a fennblade has to die. Parting the Red Sea sets up your models so that fennblades are all your enemy has to target (just hope you fail one tough roll at least :P).

With that said I urge you to put extra thought into how you do your vengence moves. With a little planning you can use your vengence move to set up success in the rest of your activations.

On a final note regarding the fenns, never forget about their special ability HARD. Heavy cav models are known for mulching infantry, but they lose one of their cool infantry clearing abilities against fennblades. Oh and being immune to collateral damage and its effects is pretty cool too. This makes slams and throws slightly less effective against your fenns.

Kriel Warriors, the balanced spear

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