Peek Into the Podium – Jeremy Posner

In addition to Playing awesome games and giving detailed information on his list pairings, Jeremy’s also started a blog where he talks about his warmachine experiences. Jeremy has been an analytical and skilled player playing Cygnar as long as I’ve known him, though he seems to be breaking into Mercs and now Convergence.

First: a link to his battle reports

Now, his write up:

I didn’t have an enormous amount of experience with Convergence prior to this outing, but I have found the faction to offer an interesting and different set of skills to hone and to either allow a player or force them to solve problems in very different ways than I’m used to.  All in all, I think Convergence is a genuinely formidable faction right now, and one that can account for itself against the field despite its limited options (that both Convergence and Grymkin have managed this excites me for the Crucible Guard release).

Destruction Initiative obviously helps to mitigate the effect of ranged attrition – though I think I need to get better at using my Servitors in a way that doesn’t complicate my own plans to use my own models and to get better mileage out of them as models with rules other than Shield Guard.  It is also easy to underestimate the power that the raw amount of focus washing the theme and induction allows can provide. Convergence is not a faction with either incredibly high raw P+S values or dramatic additional buffs, but when you are capable of buying or boosting every attack without a limit imposed by your fuel resource you make more headway than it might seem like you should.  I think that Legions is a worthwhile theme as well, but I don’t have the models for it, really, and it struck me as a list that is probably clock intensive enough that I couldn’t just pick it up and take it to an event without any regard for deathclock issues.

Convergence also has the advantage, that really all of the “non-factions” do (i.e. Mercenaries, Minions, Grymkin, and apparently Trollbloods) in that it will always have one of the better ADR lineups available, because there’s only so much that can be done to deny the faction access to its better options, and PP doesn’t necessarily want to just repeat the worst lineup possible (Mom, Aurora, Syntherion, one other) ad infinitum.  My actual use of the lists that I brought didn’t exactly highlight the value of the flexibility, because I only actually played a single configuration of both lists, but I do actually think that there are situations in which I would not want to bring just that one version, and that probably there are more than even occur to me because I’m not really used to recognizing how best to use the tools I have yet.

The two lists that I took to this event were Axis and Orion, who I think are two of the three at the top of the faction (Dad is the third – but I like Syntherion a lot personally even if I don’t think he’s quite as strong) and who I think are both flexible enough to address a range of problems while also helping address shortcomings for the other.

My Axis List looked like this:   

(Axis 1) Axis, the Harmonic Enforcer [+30]
– Corollary [6]
– Diffuser [6]
– Galvanizer [5]
– Galvanizer [5]
– Galvanizer [5]
– Galvanizer [5]
– Galvanizer [5]
– Inverter [15]
– Inverter [15]
– Inverter [15]
Attunement Servitors [0(4)]
Attunement Servitors [0(4)]
Elimination Servitors [0(3)]
Reflex Servitors [0(4)]
Reflex Servitors [0(4)]
Optifex Directive [4]
Transfinite Emergence Projector [19]

Sideboard:
Transfinite Emergence Projector [19]
Inverter [15]
Diffusor [6]

Before the event I had tried to map out a few different permutations of the list (because I didn’t want to have to think of how to make swaps to preserve a legal iist on the fly at the event, wasting people’s time), but in fact I only ever played this:

(Axis 1) Axis, the Harmonic Enforcer [+30]
– Corollary [6]
– Diffuser [6]
– Galvanizer [5]
– Galvanizer [5]
– Inverter [15]
– Inverter [15]
– Inverter [15]
Attunement Servitors [0(4)]
Attunement Servitors [0(4)]
Elimination Servitors [0(3)]
Reflex Servitors [0(4)]
Reflex Servitors [0(4)]
Transfinite Emergence Projector [19]
Transfinite Emergence Projector [19]

Axis may be the holistically strongest warcaster in the faction, which is more than I gave him credit for when I first looked at the faction (his feat has become even better than it was relative to the game as a whole in MKIII however – few feats do what it does anymore).  No single spell in his list is a headliner, but each is valuable (well Battering Ram isn’t normally, but it has its moments). Countercharge is a very strong Field Marshal that I do not think I have put nearly enough time into getting the most out of yet, and Razor Wall does a great deal in the context of a faction that often plays relatively low model count lists into even factions like Cryx or Khador (in some ways he’s sort of the Heretic of Convergence – perhaps not as clever as some of the other options but with a very compelling toolset and real depth).  

Somewhat surprisingly Axis is also a really excellent TEP warcaster because he provides them with range to inflict a lot of havoc via his feat and then protects them better than even Dad from most retaliation that really threatens them.  

I didn’t expect to lean on Axis the way I did going into the event because I really had no practice with him and based on the one look I’d had thought he was good but not necessarily a good carry for me because I was so sure I needed to get much better at using his Countercharge vectors (aha).  I think that I still do, but in retrospect there’s no denying the utility of having access to his feat.

It’s a truism that dealing with powerful control feats is all about patience, and I think that is very true of Axis and Circumpotence.  He is not entirely out of gas afterwards – the faction sustains itself pretty well turn in and turn out and he can still offer respectable support, but I think all of my opponents in Axis games did a very good job of showing me how he can start to falter if an opponent does a good job of mitigating damage early and then starts working their way back into the game – especially given that Convergence is not a faction that lends itself to the quick scenario wins that have helped really push other control warcasters over the top traditionally (think Haley, Krueger, Deneghra, the Harbinger).  

In sum Axis is not my favorite warcaster in Convergence, but he may be the one that I would lean on the most playing the faction, and he’s formidable and provides tools and tricks here and there that belie his apparent blunt object style (setting up charges through screening models with Unstoppable Force and Razor Wall makes you feel pretty clever).  

My second list was Orion:

(Orion 1) Eminent Configurator Orion [+28]
– Assimilator [16]
– Assimilator [16]
– Assimilator [16]
– Assimilator [16]
– Corollary [6]
– Diffuser [6]
– Diffuser [6]
Algorithmic Dispersion Optifex [2]
Attunement Servitors [0(4)]
Attunement Servitors [0(4)]
Elimination Servitors [0(3)]
Reflex Servitors [0(4)]
Reflex Servitors [0(4)]
Transfinite Emergence Projector [19]

Sideboard
Transfinite Emergence Projector [19]
Inverter [15]
Diffusor [6]

Though I only played the list once and in a configuration that moved two Assimilators and the Arc Node to the board for the TEP and the Inverter (it was slightly awkward that the way points worked out I couldn’t really keep in a full complement of Assimilators AND two TEPs, which I would presumably want in a matchup which required me to max out attack volume).

Orion has impressed me a great deal in the games I’ve played with him so far – not so many but more than Axis going into the event, which is to say multiple games.  He seems like he combines the highs of a warcaster who is used as a silver bullet – he can feel pretty oppressive into the kinds of games that he’s really good for (e.g. heavy infantry armies that rely on spell effects to generate durability) with the consistency of a warcaster with a broad tool set – he lacks strong control to help offset the relative fragility and low model count that Convergence lists often combine but otherwise he can be accurate, he can be pretty mobile, and he can provide damage output at least under the right circumstances.  

Part of my appreciation of Orion stems from my fondness for Assimilators – which I have grown pretty attached to.  POW 13 guns aren’t incredibly intimidating at first blush, but when they are often able to boost as much as they realistically need to and can abuse a pretty powerfully permissive rule in Ground Pounder they play very well, and POW 14 weapon master melee attacks are better than people often assume an apparently ranged vector could muster.

Orion also generally provides a “look” that is atypical of Convergence – he threatens from very odd vectors and can circumvent defensive tech in a surprisingly large number of ways (Spell Piercer, Ground Pounder, non-attacks via Magic Bullet and Direct Current, Mage Sight, even the push effect on his gun) and can be a legitimately respectable assassin without having to resort to Backlash and can be harder to pin down than a Convergence list would normally be – Field Marshal reposition combines with a ranged battlegroup with Pathfinder to create a pretty frustrating force to cleanly engage when there is a significant amount of terrain on the table.

Orion’s weakness is the logical counterpart to his strength – he enables his force very well, but he has to choose what to enable.  He doesn’t naturally facilitate a mixed ranged/melee engagement turn incredibly well (access to Flare can help address this) and though he can actually project threat pretty respectably he can’t do it across many models at a time (and not at all outside of his battlegroup except via faction-generic tools).  It should also be remembered that he enables his force offensively generally by adding dice to things rather than flat bonuses. This is, in general, better, both because most flat bonuses don’t approach the dice value benefit you can expect (not many +3.5 POW effects in the game) and because variability in damage generally helps you more than it hurts because of the nature of how the ARM system works (in that you don’t lose damage spiking low beyond a certain minimum, but there is no equivalent upper limit beyond the maximum you can possibly roll).  It does mean, however, that he can be a little prone to variance, and that is a reality that both players have to make peace with. Some of the other probability manipulating warcasters and warlocks in the game have a reputation for inviting tilt (Ashlynn, Calandra) and obviously it’s not going to help you on the table if you can’t roll with either disappointing results as an Orion player because you were cold in the short term and his baseline offensive values are actually fairly poor or with a brief hot streak in which he dropped the boom on your favorite piece as the other player.

Orion and Axis combine well, and I don’t know that there’s a magic bullet for the two, particularly in the context of a Master’s Event, but resiliency and significant threat range do a pretty good job of straining Orion and while Axis can help mitigate an otherwise rough engagement, patient play and redundancy in tools can help overcome his powerful early game.  Also, don’t lose sight of the relative mediocrity of the list pair in some scenarios – the pair can often contest more easily than it can score, though flags are a dream. There are also overlaps of challenges that neither list perfectly addresses – lists which both push the Convergence player to value Axis’ tempo and reactive power but also require magic weapons at least oblige the Convergence player to make concessions in creating a list that doesn’t simply get and eat all of its cake.   

Anyway, I was very happy to have a chance to get out and see how Convergence treated me and I think they did better by me than I did by them; I was very lucky to walk away from the event with the result that I did and I want to both thank and credit all of my opponents on the day – every single game was well played and a ton of fun and everyone pushed me.  Things really broke my way on the day and I am sure that the next time I run into everyone I’ll be hard pressed to hold my own. Thank you also to Jason Houser for running the event; it was a great time.

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