Gentle readers! Sorry for the lack of reports, but unfortunately it’s been extremely hard to get games in this Fall, as everybody’s availability vanished and the wait time for the BRB to arrive squashed a lot of enthusiasm for our existing armies. Well, we’ve finally got our Big Red Books … just in time for the holidays to smash into whatever free time we might have 😐

That said, my club recently announced its GT dates and details, which has lit some fires. Last weekend of January will be the second Dead of Winter GT here in Albany, NY – 5 games, 2150 points, no triples of any kind. While I think this is pretty reactionary and am pretty sure no quads makes for more varied lists, it’s interesting to say the least and I’ll be there no matter the comp (that’s a lie, I probably can’t make a Highlander (no duplicates) list with any army I own!) This Zweilander format, as I’ve dubbed it, does invalidate all my current armies – I use a lot of triples or quadruples for theme / skew – however I’m down to play something different.

Of the four armies I currently have, the Scuttlers (Trident) could be rebuilt but wouldn’t be a shooting army any more and would probably need the return of the Gigas; Bloodfire (Salamanders) is based around Fire Elemental hordes and Ember Sprites, which I’d be limited to 2x hordes + 2x regiments of at most (the duplicate limit is per unit per size); the Hallow (Herd) I recently rebuilt into a Brute hordes and Tribal Warriors regs checkerboard thing; and my WHFB legacy Nurgling army was last run as a Ratkin army in 2E built around 3-4 hordes of elite infantry. I reported my Nurglekin games over on DakkaDakka as well as my old blogspot (check out a weirdly competent tournament run here). The Nurglekin are also individually based and in the midst of an eternal redux, making them the most flexible for tinkering …

So over the last month I chopped up a couple Zombicide minis and started converting a new wave of Ratkin weird tek. I played a 2300 game against Cory’s Salamanders and really enjoyed it! Ratkin 3E is a strange faction but the playstyle felt good to return to, with a nice mix of grind and responsive shooting. Here are the few shots I’ve got of that game, which I believe was a draw thanks to a Turn 6-7 Mother Cryza lightning bolt rout:

The announcement of the Zweilander format curtailed my enthusiasm a bit (goodbye triple Shocktroop hordes) but I pushed on for a while. As time with no games dragged on, I found myself less enthused by the double horde build and wanting to mess around with a totally new direction for the green carpet, one that would let me use some WMH minis I’d earmarked for the army but Ratkin doesn’t support, as it has no tall 50mm units.

Specifically for this bastard!

Enter the Abyssals. While I’ve looked at the Abyssal list before, as it’s the usual home for WHFB Chaos Daemons, I’ve never actually played as them, and have a good track record of beating them at events. Abyssals seem pretty middle of the road, with ok anvils, decent mid-range shooting, mediocre hammers, multiple annoying flyers, an interesting selection of monsters and solos, and a fantastic titan in the Abyssal Fiend. On rate, I’m a fan of Lesser Abyssals and would use them for the Nurgling bulk of the army. The list also has many heroes for me to use all the Confrontation minis that make up the army’s individuals. And most importantly, Abyssals have lots of tall 50mm options for my boy Omodamos: Despoiler Champion, Chroneas, Manifestation of Ba’el, and the Well of Souls. Dash28 tells me the Well is the big brain choice, but I love how weird the Chroneas is, plus in an army that hits on 4+ I really want to hit on 3+, preferably all the time thanks to Strider. I came so close to trying out Ba’el in a game, however I’ll be real, I waver and kill Ba’el whenever I run into him. The dude is fine and his LB7 would be great for the army, I’d just rather have a weirder, fearless option.

The Zweilander format presented some challenges to my triple Lower Abyssal hordes plan, but here’s where I’ve landed after two test games vs Undead:

  • In both my test games I ran double Tortured Souls hordes but wow are those not good hammers! Did they really only lose nimble from 2E? Maybe they had CS2 before too? I’m shocked at how incompetent they are, even in the flank, and the H2 is a real liability on flyers. I’m hoping that the points saved from dropping one to a regiment (i.e. the correct size for the unit) and put back into killy items will help them both do their jobs better. Plus it gives me a fast chaff unit in the regiment.
  • The Abyssals, Guard or Lower, have been ok. I’m always itching to drop them to De 3+ and CS1 but the prevalence of P0-1 shooting is keeping me at De 4+ for now. I might swap the Lower Abyssal regs to CS1, so they might ever do some damage (I grabbed a flank in one of my games and did a whole 4 damage even bane chanted), but in theory they should be decent little 115 point anvils with De 4+ and regen 5+. A regen value, by the way, that I am really struggling with – Trident’s 4+ has ruined me 😛
  • Chroneas has been fun, Me 3+ CS3 is nice and chunky, Cloak of Death is brilliant. Temporal Ruptures is neat although would be much better if the Chroneas could heal itself, since it’s one of the only parts of the army without its own sustain. Which, yes, it could do with drain life but after taking DL8 in my first game I agree with the Internet, the upgrade is a trap. Cheaper is best.
  • The hero blend is a combination of models I want to use and duplication limits due to the comp meaning I can’t just run triple Champs. The more I use the Seductress, the more I love her, what a great toolbox hero. I haven’t run her with LB yet, but I had the points spare and for consistency and more ranged pressure I like the spell on her. For a brief time she had BC (for the Tortured Souls mostly) but I didn’t cast it, preferring to get her stuck in. She had Pipes of Terror in my second game, which is probably the go to if I wasn’t taking Boomstick. Finally, the Abyssal Warlock. An obviously great 3E hero who currently spends his days casting bane chant on the Abyssal hordes. It’s a living! With so many individuals I’ve decided to invest a few points into the new Host Shadowbeast, which I think has legs with the otherwise weak CS1 of the Abyssal individuals. I’ve tacked on Knowledgeable for an extra +1 from the spell, 10 points that otherwise would become Slashing + Crushing for the Champions. That might be better? Since it’s always on and not reliant on the Warlock not casting BC, but eh, I prefer simpler lists with fewer items if I can.

Let’s wrap this up with some mini-reports. In Forces of Nurgle 1: Undead, my buddy premiered yet another redux of his Undead army:

It’s a very solid list, with the exception of the Lute which I assured Jeff that wolf would probably never get a chance to strum. Relying on the Lykanis for inspiring will often hold them back from going rambo, but with only Att 5 maybe that’s for the better? Keeps them close for combo-charging instead of trying for flank pressure.

We played classic Loot, with the Revenant Hordes eventually getting a token each and proving far too hard for me to shift with their LL2+ and my terrible dice. The highlight for me was slowly whittling down and routing his Soul Reaver Cav with one Abyssal Champion, thanks to wavering them halfway through the process. Shadowbeast +4 gave him the boost he needed to finish them. The lowlight, tho, was taking seven flanks from Goreblights, only one to two of which were thanks to surge …

One of seven Goreblight flanks, each one of which killed a unit.

I was obviously having trouble protecting my hordes’ and regs’ flanks or blocking the Goreblights out, despite having all these dumb individuals wandering around getting into trouble. Like smashing a Soul Reaver unit late game and then going back to back to block out the final token out of spite:

The Undead did get a Turn 7 to try to grab the third token too, but my Apostates of Darkness successfully held the hill:

Despite these late game heroics, this was a decisive NURGLEKIN LOSS. I went back to the drawing board, waffled around with including Ba’el, kept the Chroneas and rematched the Undead a couple days later. He ran the same list, except with the Necromancer swapped to a Revenant Champion w/ Tome of Darkness + Surge (5) and no Lute on that Lykanis. I assured him that ‘wasting points’ on a model you’d rather bring (he hates his Necro) and is only marginally better is both Cool and Good.

In Forces of Nurgle 2: Undead, we rolled up Push. He loaded all his tokens on the Aegis Revenants and successfully grabbed the center token with the Hann’s Revenants, so again put me in the position of needing to crack very tough hordes with a relatively toothless army. Here’s us squaring off on the left:

You can also see me feeding my trash Abyssal regiments to bop the horde or sleedbump things. I messed up and should have blocked the central Goreblight so it couldn’t (SPOILER) flank me in coming turns 😦 But such was the theme of the weekend.

Like so! This is after that Goreblight flanked to the right, killing an Abyssal Guard regiment and spinning to face this flank, which it walked into. Dammit, me. This horde did survive tho, as the Goreblight rolled normal hits for the first time all weekend (my opponent’s dice were FIRE on all his 4+ while mine were wet garbage), and I got to experience the power of the sacrificial imp double regen, which was great fun 😀

Eventually we crack both Rev hordes, then both roll a bunch of snake eyes in a row that extend the rout of the Undead longer than it needed to be. Highlights: the same Abyssal Champ wavering and eventually routing the same Soul Reaver Cav from Game 1; the Chroneas withdrawing (-1 to hit!) and rear charging some Soul Reaver infantry, only to snake eyes them on 16 damage and die in return; both Tortured Souls hordes mobbing the other Soul Reaver infantry, only to snake eyes them on 16 damage and die in return* (well one anyway); an Abyssal Guard unit with 4 tokens scooting off into the sunset on Turn 4 while all this carnage played out on the left. I eventually got the 3 tokens from that Rev Horde as well, making this a dominating NURGLEKIN WIN.

* If you were concerned about Soul Reaver Infantry’s damage output after the nerf, don’t be! They still hit shockingly hard, especially when you’re Jeff and you consistently wound 13+ times with those 20 attaks.

So after these games and a weekend spent in the kitchen with Abyssals, I’m not sure how I feel. The list I posted above is neat and has some tools behind it and I’m down to try it again … but in game, I gotta say rolling 4-5+ all the time is a real slog. I’m pretty sick of playing armies that don’t feel like they do anything, which is how I felt playing my Herd before I added more to them this summer and embraced the hammers that Herd have available. Ironically, I find myself wondering if I should just play the Hallow, which has some very cool 3D sculpts and is my newest paint, rather than putting work into revising my infantry-centric Nurglekin, whether they’re Abyssals or Rats or whatever. But I worry that Herd don’t have enough going on for me, a control player at heart who doesn’t like alpha strike.

Anyhoo, thanks for reading all this! I’ll hopefully be back before the year ends with a proper report or two as we prep for Dead of Winter.