One of the most profoundly changed units in this edition (at least from a Menite perspective) is the Deliverer Skyhammers. Deliverers have been one of the most consistently terrible units in Warmachine, never really finding their place through multiple editions and were still pretty rough at the start of Mk. 3. Thankfully the Christmas 2017 CID slipped them into the mix and bumped up their effectiveness, making one of my favorite units in the faction... though one I feel I haven't spent nearly enough time with.
For today's game I one-listed our local game night just to see what awful matchups I could throw some silliness into, and ended up at the table with one of my most common opponents, our local Gatorman. He was playing his slight variation on the Maelok Gatorman Posse-spam build and I was running a Severius1 gunline in Faithful Masses making heavy use of the Deliverer models.
Grand Scrutator Severius - The Faithful Masses
Deliverer Skyhammers x2
Deliverer Sunburst Crew x2
Idrian Skirmishers w/Chieftain and Guide
Aiyana and Holt w/Attendant
Allegiant of the Fist x2
Vassal Mechanik x2
Maelok the Dreadbound - The Blindwater Congregation
Gatorman Posse x3 (One unit w/Void Leech)
Bog Trog Ambushers
Gatorman Witch Doctor x2
Typically a CRA centric gunline is going to have issues into this kind of build but... the nature of this Faithful Masses list is a bit strange and doesn't really play like a typical gunline. Let's see how that plays out.
We roll scenario and get Outlast, which is a decent one for either of us I think given that we're both running pretty infantry-heavy. I fling some terrain around and he wins our starting roll, opting to go first. I pick the side with the least obnoxious terrain. My wall goes up by the left zone, mostly because the right one is full of hills and buildings so has basically nowhere to go.
The question for him here I think is basically which side of the table gets two Posse units. Unfortunately I can counter deploy pretty much however I want, between going second and having some AD, but he has the advantage of Ambushers to help shore up whatever side is weakest. My right side gets two Posse units, left side gets one. Otherwise stuff deploys more or less symmetrically.
The list is overall pretty symmetrical, a Skyhammer and Sunburst unit taking either side, then Aiyana and Holt sitting on the right side of my central Revelator, Severius behind the colossal, and the Idrians advance deploy on the right side to counter the doubled up gators. I prey the unit of Posse he currently has in front. The Allegiants pop up on the left, and they basically need to hold down that zone as long as possible. I've played against this style of Maelok list a couple times before and the main thing I do know is Allegiants of the Fist are a bloody nightmare for it to deal with, relying mostly on really inefficient Sacrifical Strikes from Witch Doctors to clear them, which both kills an entire Posse member and only has a 2/3 chance of succeeding due to Tough. Thankfully I have an out for that as well.
Blindwater Turn 1:
Nothing complex here. The unit of Posse with Prey run to just outside my Idrians walk and shoot range, and the other unit runs right past them, getting in front to face the Idrians head on. The left side Posse just run. His Thrullgs just move a little bit, but he opts to keep them back for the most part.
One of the Posse units on the right gets Soul Harvester, and Maelok casts Death Pact. The Blind Walker durdles up on the left a bit, and the Wrastler moves up aggressively on the right, since he's behind a forest I can't do much about. Witch Docs of course had done Death Rides before all of this. He passes turn, and I promptly forget to take a picture.
Protectorate Turn 1:
Fun fact about Deliverer models is they shoot real far.
I check that my Revelator doesn't have range to anything. Once I've verified that, I allocate it no extra focus and move along with my turn. The Skyhammers on both sides move up (I have already forgotten he has Ambushers at this point) and start slamming AOEs into whatever they've got range on. The Skyhammers mostly deviate onto stuff, setting a Posse member and the right side Thrullg on fire. Idrians move up and do a few CRAs. By the end, three Posse are dead, one is on fire, and one succeeded a Tough check and fell down. Not too bad for bottom of 1.
This is where I want to talk about Deliverer math a little bit. A lot of people talk about them like you need a caster with a hit fixer or knockdown or something due to Inaccurate, and that they're an infantry clearing unit. Thing is, each unit of Deliverers at full strength is able to fire a POW 20 shot with POW 15 blast at AOE 5. They shoot far enough and with arcing fire that it's hard to stop them all from reaching what they want to shoot at. Under Sevvy1, my blast damage is dice -2 on a death pacted Gatorman, easily capable of killing one or at the very least doing a good chunk of damage. The initial target will basically die without fail, besides Tough checks. What's more, this is at RAT 11, 12 under Eye of Menoth, so it is absolutely deadly accurate. You can spread that out into two AOE 's at POW 15 with POW 10 blast (16/11 under Sevvy1) at RAT 6, 7 under Eye, 8 if you brought an Arms Master, 10 if you aimed... they get stupid accurate very quickly. Then you have the option of just flinging 10 low POW AOEs at stuff like Gun Mages and Nyss Hunters, who definitely start dying when they get hit by a lot of POW 5s. They can act as an an infantry blender, armor cracker, or anything in between and it's wonderful.
Anyway, Severius puts Defenders Ward on the Idrians and Vision on one of the Allegiants (retching noises.) The Allegiants move up behind my wall and pop Shifting Sands Stance to hold that zone for me. Aiyana and Holy move up a bit, popping Stealth and Warding, and the Choir sing no spells on the Revelator to keep Mortality off of him. I pass turn.
Blindwater Turn 2:
First order of business, fire! The one on the Posse goes out, but the Thrullg one sticks around. Then just knock out a nice easy double six damage roll to kill him instantly. Menoth be praised!
I forgot about Ambushers. I remember them against like every opponent I ever play except this one for some reason, he has a way of lulling you into a false sense of security. Anyway, he has some pretty juicy charges on the right side, but the left is extremely weak and I think he recognizes that he has to stop that Skyhammer unit before it obliterates the unit of Posse on that side. The Ambushers pop in on the right and charge in, killing all but four of the Skyhammers on that side.
His Gatorman Posse on all sides charge in. Even with rerolls to hit, the Posse only kill two Idrians on the right side due to Defenders Ward, although this does give Maelok a couple souls. One member of the preyed unit hides entirely behind the building on the right, but inside the zone. His Wrastler continues to move up to try and threaten the Revelator, although he's not quite in charge range yet as he's wanting to stay behind the forest. Maelok himself moves up, gets his army in range, feats, casts Spiny Growth on himself, casts Death Pact, and Revives one Gatorman way up in my grill. The Blind Walker runs through his Wrastler to stand in front of Maelok. The left side Posse charge in on the Allegiants, failing to hit (needing double 6's is rough) and letting them adjust into some back arcs. He passes turn.
Protectorate Turn 2:
Maelok feat turn is always a good day for everybody, but I do have some options. I hit extremely hard, even at range, and have some interesting tools to mess with his stuff so... let's see what we can get done.
Step one, kill the Bog Trogs. Between my four remaining Deliverers (one aimed, others CRA'd with him, so a RAT 7 POW 15 shot with pow 10 blast), my left side Sunburst, and one big gun shot from the Revelator, all but one Bog Trog die, and he's stuck behind a circle of fire. The Revelator also puts a big shot into the Blind Walker, doing a few points of damage and putting another ring down. The little guns hit some Posse members, killing one of the unit on the left and injuring one on the right.
At this point I remember my feat, so Severius moves up to catch Maelok and feats, cutting a handful of Posse members out of feat and death pact range, as well as making it hard for him to cast spells much next turn, and he's too hot on fury so his beasts may have issues.
The Sunburst on the right pops a shot into his Void Leech on the hill, aiming to a decent RAT 8 and hitting pretty easily. This kills the Leech and sets a Posse member and one Witch Doc on fire. Aiyana and Holt activating, receiving Warding and attempting to Kiss the more brown colored Posse unit, although she drops a snake eyes on me and doesn't do much. Holt, however, goes beast mode on the injured Posse leader in the zone and kills him (dice minus 7, he only had a box or two left.) Idrians charge whatever they can, killing the revived gator, another gator in their face, and one of the preyed unit, then repositioning around.
My Allegiants flail ineffectually at the gators, but keep Shifting Sands Stance up. I forget to move one into the forest to contest his flag, which Maelok is controlling, but ah well. I pass turn and he scores, making it 0-1, Blindwaters favor.
Blindwater Turn 3:
First off, fire checks! The one on the Witch Doc goes out, the one on the Posse does a little damage but that's about it. Then... frenzy checks! His warlock is only FURY 5 right now so the 7 fury on the table is an issue. He leaves two on the Blind Walker, who frenzies and his closest target is... one of his own Posse, who he promptly kills.
This turn is slightly foggy because I'm missing my picture and this was a long game. For the most part Posse just attack Idrians, killing a few with rerolls. On the left, Posse charge in, one killing two Skyhammers, the others flailing at the allegiants and failing to connect. This lets me walk the one with Vision in to contest his flag, which is nice. This I think flusters him a little, and his Wrastler walks a little bit into the forest to try and deal with the monk, missing his boosted attack and letting me walk at an angle out of his melee, but still contesting. The Soul Slave boosts a Venom, which actually hits but I pop Vision to ignore it, instead just receiving corrosion.
Maelok moves up onto a hill and out of the feat, casting Death Pact and Soul Harvester onto the unit of Posse with prey on them (he did this before they attacked, so he did get a couple souls.) His Bog Trog who stayed alive runs to engage the two remaining Skyhammers, and his Thrullg shoots out to the left into the water to try not to get gunned down. The Bull Snapper charges an Idrian, boosting to hit but I believe missing... he may have hit, like I said, it gets a little foggy on this one. He passes turn, score remains 0-1, Blindwater favor. I miss a picture this turn, sadly.
Protectorate Turn 3:
Things are going alright! A big part is... I can see his Wrastler, albeit only from a very particular angle. I do a little premeasuring to make sure Aiyana can get a line of sight on the beast if she walks forward on her hill, and verify that she can. She Kisses the Wrastler, and Holt... shoots something, I don't really remember. The Revelator gets Battle and aims, just barely in range of the Wrastler. After two Conflagrator shots (both POW 20) and one Light Bringer (POW 17), the Wrastler is deleted. My last Light Bringer goes into the Posse member who moved way up to charge my Skyhammers, but he succeeds his tough check.
Idrians on the right side kill one Posse member, but were mostly out of command because my Chieftain actually died in the last turn (this was a long game, some details get lost.) Left side, my Allegiant is able to clean up a Posse member, and the one on the right continues to contest the flag under Shifting Sands (though he takes a point from corrosion.) My Skyhammers try to kill the Bog Trog in melee but fail. The Sunburst finishes off the knocked down Gator in front of me.
Between a couple missed pictures and this being a really damned long game, I'm going into highlight mode.
Maelok has about nine fury this turn and uses it to boost a Mortality onto my Idrians, as well as Venom a few. They are now back down to DEF 13, an important threshhold of defense at which Posse are slaughtering them, so they basically disappear this turn. The Blind Walker attempts to throw one of the remaining two Idrians at another Idrian, which would have cleared the zone (alongside a Posse member killing Aiyana, which he did), but failed to his. He does kill the Idrian, but the one remains to contest for me. To maintain command, his Posse member hanging out behind the building is forced to come out of hiding. His Gators on the left try again to handle an Allegiant, attempting to surround him but the wall doesn't allow them to make a small enough space so he slips out unmolested. His Bog Trog kills one of the two Skyhammers fighting him.
He wasn't able to cast Death Pact this turn due to needing Mortality and the Venom to clear enough infantry. My Skyhammers on the right pretty much just run and flood the zone. Between the Revelator, Sunburst Crew, and Allegiant on the left, two of the last three Posse on the left side zone die, the third knocked down to Tough, and his Gatorman Witch Doctor on that side also succeeded a tough, leaving only the Thrullg really fighting over there. Severius is able to find a really specific spot outside 11" of the Thrullg where, as long as the Witch Doctor dies, the Thrullg can't get him, but he still has 8" range on the knocked down Posse member in the zone. Sevvy boosts an Ashes to Ashes, killing that Posse and the Witch Doc. Holt charges a Gatorman, not doing much but using Dual Attack to shoot out of his melee and force tough on the Posse member who slipped out of hiding. He has Maelok, a somewhat injured Blind Walker, a Bull Snapper, a Posse member who repeatedly toughs and lets fire go out and all kinds of stuff, and another Posse member who is knocked down, then a Thrullg to the left and his stupid Bone Shrine contesting the left zone. Also, my Sunburst Crew members go kill the Bog Trog for me.
At this point he's in assassination mode, as the Revelator is basically untouchable at this point and Severius is camping 1. He tramples the Blind Walker in, failing to hit anything he goes over but that's not really important. He pops his animus.
Maelok activates and, since he can't Mortality Severius, just boosts some Venoms targeting other things. The first is fully boosted, which I reduce with my one focus. He then has two that he decides to just boost to hit with, but fails to do much and leaves Sevvy on 8. The Thrullg runs to engage Severius. The Bull Snapper kills an Idrian and the Posse member stands up and walks around.
From there, Sevvy just kills the Thrullg himself with some boosting, the Revelator turns and shoots the Blind Walker to death, as well as shooting at his Bull Snapper, which had Spiny Growth and didn't take much. The last Posse member gets cleared by Skyhammers, and he has nothing left but his Warlock, a Bull Snapper, and a Bone Shrine. He's outside 16" of Severius, which means even if he gets a charge angle that lets him angle a Venom onto Sevvy, he just doesn't have range. Maelok charges in and kills a few random troops, but two swings from the Revelator on the next turn kills the Bull Snapper through transfers and then Maelok himself.
This is a weird list, and that's a weird matchup. Dice helped me a little in a few places, and he definitely made a few mistakes; it's a game we're looking forward to trying again soon. The Severius build just outputs such extreme damage at range, and does it in a very strange way since it's utilizing massive blast AOEs that are quite capable of exploding even armored troops. I'm having a good time experimenting with it, and can't wait to keep up with more mad science later.
See y'all around!