Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tactics: Kaelyssa, Night's Whisper

Kaelyssa is the current toolbox-caster for the Retribution of Scyrah. She's got some solid denial spells, but prefers more of a supervisory position than a lead-from-the-front-with-my-sword a la Dawnlord Vyros, or 'kill a lotta guys with my uber Kroot rifle' like Ravyn.

Stats, Weapons, Attacks
SPD 6 and Pathfinder are sufficient to keep up with most retribution units. She has a solid DEF 16, but ARM 14 and 16 health boxes do not a durable caster make. Her FOCUS 7 and spell list mean that she's got a solid enough control area, and that she doesn't belong on the front lines from a durability standpoint.

Her melee melee capability is so-so with MAT 6 and POW 12; it's enough to KO enemy troopers but this should be a holdout weapon. She's more at home with the Runebolt cannon, a RNG 12 POW 10 magical weapon with ROF 3 and MAT 7. It's not got a lot of punch, but you can always use it to KO annoying solos. Be ready to boost damage, though, if you want the solo to stay down with one shot.

Overall, she's quick enough to keep up and has a solid focus pool, but she's squishy and only slightly above-average in terms of hitting things with a gun.

In addition to Pathfinder, she's got three neat abilities: True Sight, With Hound and Energy Siphon. Pathfinder at least lets you get Concealment with some ease.

True Sight means you can hit Stealth models. This works even when arcing, so you can snip annoying solos or lay down fire on units with stealth. You can also snipe solos with your rifle, if it comes to that. This is her major anti-stealth ability in person.

Witch Hound is neat, but situational. If someone hits Kaelyssa's battlegroup with a magic attack, someone in the battlegroup gets to make a full advance and an attack after the spell is resolved. It's a bit more fun when the enemy has plenty of magic attacks that they want to use on your jacks, though.

Energy Siphon lets you pull Focus or Fury off any target you hit with one of Kaelyssa's weapons. This is probably going to be of more use in Hordes (and more annoying, since it can screw with their Fury for next turn, potentially) but it lets you get more than 7 Focus. It's something to keep in mind. It is NOT a reason to go fight some beasts in hand to hand unless they're low ARM/DEF models, because they can still probably beat you up, even/especially if they frenzy.

Hellooo, toolbox. There's something for most every situation here.

Arcantrik Bolt
POW 12 magical attack, RNG 10. It's for sniping annoying solos/magical models via arc nodes. If it damages a warjack, then the warjack is rendered stationary. It can make the enemy pay Focus to shake the effect, which is somewhat useful. Stationary is of course wonderful for making sure jacks get tagged, since MAT 6 on our heavy-hitter warjacks is not exactly the most accurate.

Arcane Reckoning
Hello, denial. If the enemy misses the model/unit holding this buff, then they are in turn hit with the attack. Higher-defense models love this, because the enemy can’t dump a magic AOE on them and game the deviation. It will force boosting, and it’s a deterrent for non-caster magic attacks.

Cryx players will recognize this; when the warjack suffering this effect takes damage, the caster takes a point of damage each time the jack gets hit. You probably won’t kill the caster with this but you can knock a chunk out of them. The trick to getting the most mileage is to paper-cut the jack to death. Just don’t expect a knockout punch with it at this point, unless the Retribution gets some units with Feedback on their weapons.

Banishing Ward
Banishing Ward renders a model/unit immune to being targeted by enemy spells/animi, and knocks off any enemy upkeeps on them. Bottom line, it can keep a unit from getting a nasty upkeep on it, or remove it after the fact. If you didn’t put it on something preemptively, then they get one turn to enjoy the debuff.

Phantom Hunter
Someone in the battlegroup ignores LOS when making attacks, and laughs at concealment and cover when shooting.. This can let Kaelyssa hit anything she can range. It also lets most of the jacks be a little more accurate; RAT 5 becomes a little more effective at hitting stuff but probably still wants boosts. It’s a neat upkeep for 2 focus, but somewhat situational.

This is her most expensive spell at 4 focus, but it’s a 4” AOE with POW 13. That’s not bad for thinning out troops with lower armor (and/or stealth), but the real bonus is that the AOE is difficult terrain for a round. IF you can make it hit, and the enemy doesn’t have pathfinder, then it’s wonderful denial.

See also: another reason to bring an arc node.

Feat: The Vanishing
Friendly faction models in her control zone gain Stealth and cannot be charged for a round. This is purely a setup feat, and can potentially deny both ranged and shooting. Just make sure the enemy isn’t so close that they’ll simply walk up and smack you, and keep a look out for any ranged attacks that ignore stealth.

Filling out the Army
Kaelyssa wants heavy hitters. The Phoenix gets a mention because it’s an arc node and has a pretty reasonable damage output. You can get around MAT 6 by smacking the target with an Arcantrik bolt if it’s a jack.

The Manticore goes nicely with Rift, since Covering Fire + Rift = unhappy infantry plus slow jacks. It is also, of course, a great heavy hitter and you need that as well. PS 20 hands (force generator + Arcanist's Concentrated Power) make even Khador jacks worry a little.

The Hydra can bank its focus and use Phantom Hunter to great effect with its Force Cannon; unless you’re stealth you can’t hide from a POW 15, RNG 15 gun with RAT 5 (potentially 7 with the aim) and a boost. It’s not really for hunting casters, but solos and UAs probably won’t do well with a boostable POW 15 hit.

Typically, you’re bringing Kaelyssa because she doesn’t have as many problems with Stealth as other casters. Retribution has two ways around stealth: melee and AoEs. To this end, I suggest starting with Dawnguard Sentinels, and look elsewhere once you’ve filled them out and added the UA. This also means you don’t absolutely, positively HAVE to use your jacks for all the big game hunting.

The only unit-borne AoEs come from Stormfall Archers, and Kaelyssa doesn’t really buff those.

The Mage Hunter Strike Force doesn’t really have a way around stealth, but a minimal unit + UA are excellent support hunters, since they also have Phantom Hunter.

Eiryss is excellent support against Warmachine opponents. pEiryss is more of a caster-kill setup or sniper, as eEiryss + multiple arcantrik bolts = 2-3 stationary jacks a turn if they’re close by. eEiryss is also capable of removing buffs from units, so I honestly have to lean towards her a little more for utility + ability to help Arcantrik Bolt lock down multiple warjacks.

I suggest an arcanist per heavy jack, or the max of two. Early on, they let you run myrmidons into position without taxing her, and once she starts running them they buff the damage output or fix busted systems.

Beyond that, current solos tend to be support-hunters of one stripe or another, so flavor as needed.

The most frequent word in this write-up has got to be 'situational.' That's what Kaelyssa does: she changes a situation in your favor. Chances are that she won't use every tool in every game, but she's bound to carry something you will find useful against most any opponent.

A thanks to the Warmachine Retribution Forum for feedback and covering gaps in my knowledge. You can find the associated discussion here.

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