onsdag 8. februar 2017

Dissecting Nemo3

There's been a lot of questions about my Nemo3 list lately. I just listened to the Storm Chambers podcast in which they discuss it (among other things). You can find the episode in question here. First of all, let's start with the list:
Theme: Storm Division
(Nemo 3) Artificer General Nemo [+25], Bunker
- Storm Chaser Adept Caitlin Finch
- Squire [0]
- Firefly [8]
- Firefly [8]
- Firefly [8]
- Dynamo [18]
- Lancer [10]
Storm Lances (max) [20]
Storm Lances (min) [12]
Major Katherine Laddermore [8]
Journeyman Warcaster [0]
- Firefly [8]
What does Nemo3 do? He's a focus 7 caster with an incredibly powerful damage-buff feat, a very solid, defensive upkeep spell and an amazing spell for taking out casters and heavies alike: Force Hammer. On top of that he's extremely focus-efficient.

This skill-set sets up for a few things: First of all he wants Lances. Lots of Lances. Shooting just plain normally they are POW12. However, if stars align, every model can get up to POW16 boosted, PS15 boosted and 2x POW12 boosted on feat turn. It's rare, but I have had it happen. This potential, combined with Nemo's feat basically making electro-leaps into heavy killers, means that having a core of Lances is a must for him. Also, while the damage output of a Nemo3 list is through the roof on feat turn, it can often feel lacking outside of the feat. The Lances constantly threaten PS15 charges which helps weigh up for this. Due to the theme force benefits from Storm Division, I have found Lances and Laddermore in the max + min + dragoon to be the best choice, netting you exactly 40 points to get two free solos with.

The Firefly is an absolute necessity with Nemo3. Not only is Ionization amazing with all his lightning damage, these humble little lights dish out a surprising amount of pain of their own on feat turn. They are great scenario pieces, highly durable for their cost and capable in melee. With Lightning Shroud they are quite annoying to deal with. I initially tried but one Firefly with Nemo3. That was way too little. 2 also felt too little. It's hard to put into words but we'll look at examples later. It boils down to a combination of durability, ability to project force through LoS-denial and the need for multiple Lightning Generators. The obvious alternative is to max out the Lances (which costs 1 Firefly), but I don't want that because I value the Firefly more. To understand why, we have to look at The Ping Pong Theory and understand Deployment, Patterns and Board Space Development.

Nemo3 is not a caster who can whittle down everything at once. In certain matchups this is doable, but in general Nemo3 has to play into a skewed formation. On his feat turn, he can annihilate a portion of your opponent's army, seriously damaging their subsequent threat projection in return (think lines from Ping Pong Theory). To achieve this, we need a strong flank, a flank we can truly demolish. It follows that the other flank will be weak. We cannot abandon it however because that will lead to scenario issues. In my experience a couple of Lances (typically the smaller unit) and a Firefly are enough to commit to your weak flank early on to have contest pieces mid-game. Now, this is important: If we were to max out both Lances, we would effectively be taking points away from Nemo's strong flank and putting them into his weak flank. Considering that he needs the opposite, maxing both Lances actually works against his plan, not with it.

A rule of thumb I use during deployment is max Lances centrally-slightly skewed to my strong flank, 2 Fireflies, Lancer and Dynamo centrally and 1 Firefly on either flank (I typically want Junior's Firefly on my strong flank to avoid losing him), with the min Lances going towards the weak flank. Terrain, opponent's deployment and specific matchups might call for different setups though, this isn't absolute. Let's look at some examples which illustrate my points thus far about deployment, threat projection etc:

Fireflies on either flank, big Lances sort of right-ish, small Lance sort of left-ish. Junior left, rest central.

A very classic bottom of 1 formation for Nemo3. You can clearly see how I'm setting up to dominate one flank. Maxing out Lances on my left and losing a Firefly here wouldn't help me much, would it?

The left flank is won and scenario is starting to look iffy for Wurmwood. The Lances are ready to sweep into the middle and that creates a couple of very problematic angles for Circle. Note the Firefly and small Lances waiting patiently on the right flank and the strong center.

If you start paying attention to these things you'll see them evident in most, if not all of my reports.

Dynamo's a bit of a no-brainer on Nemo3. I didn't like him that much initially but that was because my lists then didn't have the durability to stay relevant in the scenario in a prolonged game. The Fireflies really help with that, which means that sooner or later Dynamo gets his angle. At that point in time, he hurts. One of Dynamo's weaknesses though is his unreliable RAT6. What, you say. RAT6 is good by warjack standards! Sure it is, but when you need all shots to hit to take advantage of his damage output, even re-rolls aren't enough. Nemo has the perfect answer: Force Hammer. He just needs to apply it. Coupled with Lightning Shroud making our light jacks quite capable in melee and Chain Lightning whose tendrils you can boost, I think it's a no-brainer and an absolute necessity to take an Arc Node with Nemo3. In theme, you have two options, technically. I don't like the Hurricane because it does way too little of what Nemo3 wants to do so that means that our humble Lancer gets a chance in the spotlight. And let me just say, he has not let me down one bit! At just 10 points, this guy gets so much work done and is so hard to deal with for opponents that it's ridiculous. I hardly ever play a turn without slinging at least one spell with Nemo. His spell list is just amazing and the Lancer lets him assert his personal presence.

Nemo himself is fragile. The ARM16 sure helps in a lot of cases, but DEF14 and 14 boxes do him no favours. Typically, he has to camp or remain out of sight. Sometimes both. His spells are amazing and his warjacks are powerful so in my experience focus tends to run out and you need to weigh his offense carefully to not have him simply die on you. Magnetic Field is situational but when it's good it's a game changer. Wurmwood is one of the most clear-cut examples. No Hellmouth shenanigans on Nemo's entire battlegroup does so much for the playability of this matchup.

With the theme force the Squire's a no brainer. The way I play Nemo means I often have jacks and Lances at the very end of his control range (16"). I also sling spells so the re-roll is super-handy and lastly Nemo loves his focus and the Squire improves his impressive focus efficiency even further. And no, it's hardly ever overkill.

The big question then boils down to quite simply theme or no theme? The main arguments I hear for not taking him in theme revolve around Stealth and RAT. I personally don't believe that much in Reinholdt because the Squire is just such an amazing attachment for how Nemo3 plays, but the GMCA was useful when I had him for sure. However, I didn't find him to be crucial. Why? Dynamo, Fireflies and Nemo can all boost to fairly reliably hit medium-to-high DEF models by boosting attack rolls. When Dynamo shoots DEF14-16 on feat turn I boost attack rolls. I'd consider that against DEF12-13 as well, depending on the situation. With Ionization and feat the damage output is typically significant against models in those DEF-ranges anyway. If needed though, there's always force hammer, which I cast frequently.

As far as Stealth is concerned it simply hasn't been a thing in my games. Between Ionization, boostable tendrils on Chain Lightning and feat, stealthed models tend to just die. Especially on feat turn. The thing is that no matter how you build Nemo3 (within reasonable bounds), you absolutely will kill stuff with leaps on feat turn. There are no two ways about it. However, setting up to kill as much as possible with leaps I have found to be crucial to counter LoS-denial and high-def. I'll frequently run up a Firefly and feat to bounce off of him. Works wonders against Circle, it doesn't take that many boosted pow12s to take out wolf heavies (Ghetorix with Animus excepted, but even he dies typically). Furthermore, if my opponent jams up behind LoS-denying features, you can bet those D3 tendrils will be worth their weight in gold. Things just die. Horribly. At that point in time stealth or no doesn't matter that much. Even outside of feat turn stealth targets can be dealt with, to a degree.

At Norwegian Masters I played against Circle in the Semi-Finals. Granted, it was Tanith, but the play I am about to describe is universal against Circle so it doesn't matter that much. The report can be found here by the way. So I want to kill a Sentry Stone but I don't want to feat. How do we accomplish that? Well, I run up a Firefly and I cast a Chain Lightning on it through the Lancer. The leap hits the stone and I boost damage. Any decent roll will chip off a good few boxes and the rest of the list can follow up with unboosted pow12s to take out the rest of its boxes. After all, I haven't even necessarily given up a Firefly. Those things are durable! Taking out one is not trivial for Circle and might not even remotely be worth it consider how they'll have to expose themselves to do so. Even if it dies, I have 3 left and chances are its sacrifice bought me time and board space, possibly even an attrition advantage (again: Ping Pong Theory).

Trying to build Nemo3 out of theme just loses you so much of how he wants to play. This is a +25 warjack points caster so the theme gives him +9% models. 9% is a lot. It's a free Firefly and a point to spare. This list works so well that I don't think I'd take a GMCA even if I could. What would I swap out? All the pieces have been super valuable. It's a combination of durability, damage output, speed, table presence, scenario denial and reaching that critical mass which is so important when you play a caster with a destructive feat.

Hopefully you have a better understanding of why this list looks the way it does now. In closing I would like to share a few key reports which illustrate the flexibility and power:

Norwegian Masters Finals vs Ossrum. Game ended pre-maturely because Ossrum was a little too confident in his ability to survive. Lancer, Nemo and Dynamo proved him wrong. In any case, what else could he have done in his second turn?

Tournament Game vs Wurmwood. The assassination turns out to be a bad idea, but I still had a ton of options here! Wurmwood found no good plays top of 2 (and neither do I), the scenario opening isn't there, I'm spread out so well that his feat can end up being largely irrelevant and the multitude of lightning generators threaten to rip him apart even with LoS-denial.

Practice Game vs Iron Mother. Despite Convergence having Shield Guards galore in theme, Nemo is able to power through and decimate a flank, essentially winning the game of attrition top of 2.

If you are still not convinced I hope you'll post your thoughts and an alternative list. I'm happy to discuss anything Cygnar and especially my new-found man-crush Nemo3!

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