Saturday, January 29, 2011

Evaluating Rhys, the crazy sword of Everblight

Rhyas is the kind of warlock that gets some flak on the forums. Realistically, not everything is created equally. This means some things are better than others, and Rhyas ends up on the lower end of the spectrum for Legion warlocks.

Being on the percieved 'lower end' doesn't mean Rhyas is bad. It means more that Rhyas is a bit more limited: she's got a handful of spells and nasty assassination potential, so she's kind of limited in what she can do.

Round 1 of Questions
1) How Vulnerable am I to Assassination?
Rhyas has the typical DEF16 and ARM14 you see in the smaller Legion warlocks. She's sitting on 16 health, which is about average. She's harder to hit, but not very hard to damage. This is kind of par for the course for warlocks.

Bottom line? Rhyas is hard to hit, but not hard to damage. You're likely better off buffing her defense, as DEF16 means that even boosted shots are probably rolling at 50/50. With Perfect Balance, the enemy can't try to use combined attacks to get around her DEF16, at least. However, she's still vulnerable to knockdown, which lets the enemy do fun stuff like slam things over her.

2) Can the warlock kill things?
MAT8 and a PS12 weaponmaster sword say that yes, Rhyas can kill things. Critical decapitation (double damage that exceeds ARM, cannot take Tough rolls) is icing on the cake.

Rhyas has SPD 7, and can get +1 from a spell. As such, she's got a threat range of 11.5 inches, and chances are that if an enemy caster gets within that threat range, you can kill them.

Note, though, that if you do plan on using Rhyas' offensive ability, make sure she kills the target. She has Sprint, so if you can hack at targets and kill them, you can promptly run out of combat and back to safety (kind of, anyway) and ignore free strikes thanks to Perfect Balance.

Better yet, thanks to Acrobatic, she can get through anything and make full use of her 10.5" base threat range. Screening models? She doesn't care, as long as she can put her base there.

Bottom line? If you're going to use Rhyas' melee potential, be careful about it. Note that she can only buy a limited number of attacks, given her FURY 5 and having a couple of upkeeps.

3) Spells/Utility
Rhyas does NOT have a lot of spells. She's got a whopping three spells, but part of that comes from having a whoppin' FURY of 5.

Rapport is a solid warbeast buff; it's a 2-fury upkeep buff that gives a warbeast in her battlegroup MAT8, RAT6 and the ability to transfer once without paying fury. Honestly, you kind of want a beast of a warbeast to take this spell, because it's her new best friend. You can also transfer to it even if you're outside of her whoppin' 10" control area.

Occultation is a situational buff that gives a friendly unit/model stealth. It's a nice 'screw you' to spells.

Dash is the one spell she has that's not an upkeep. Warrior models are immune to free strikes in her control area, and warrior models & Rhyas gain +1 SPD. This does two things: 1) increase the threat range on Legion infantry, and 2) pull your infantry out of a fight without risking death from free strikes.

Basically, Rhyas can make one infantry unit immune to direct fire, buff the accuracy of one beast, and increase the threat range of all of your infantry.

4) Feat
Her feat has the lovely title 'Tide of Blood.' Basically, Legion models get a free extra melee attack (YAY!) and the first time they damage an enemy model, you can place 'em in base contact with that model. You can use this for the obvious extra attacks, and you may be able to get a little extra threat range and positioning out of the feat, depending on what targets you go after.

I think you're more likely to use the feat to rip up the enemy army than anything else, but that's me. All else fails, you can use it to increase Rhyas' ability to get to the target.

Round 2 of Questioning
5) What kind of game does the warlock play?
Rhyas is light on fury and carries a small control range (all of 10 inches, as small as it gets for the game). As such, she's going to take the lead, and you may be wanting to take advantage of her personal melee capabilities. Make no mistake, if you CAN get to the enemy, then you can probably do some damage. However, you don't have the fury and durability to absorb much abuse, so you don't want to lean too much on Rhyas herself to kill things.

Any way you cut it, Rhyas WILL be close to the front just because she's FURY5. She's likely to throw out her upkeeps on turn one, and advance from there, looking for a good time to kill something herself.

The problem is that Rhyas has a fairly narrowly-defined list of stuff she can do: get infantry into the fight and make a beast accurate. She's very focused, and in that regard it's like taking a sniper rifle into an FPS game: you can do one thing REALLY WELL, but anyone that can get around that can give you some trouble. She's just not that versatile, as about the only thing she's good at is trying to kill things.

6) Win Condition
Ideally you'll use her feat to knock a chunk out of the enemy army. Otherwise, you're probably hoping to deliver the beast with Rapport on it to the enemy caster, as MAT8 will probably get through their defense without absolutely requiring the boost.

Really, Rhyas is about offense. Get the infantry in there, kill the enemy, and get something accurate to the enemy warlock. There's just not a lot of subtlty to her, or necessarily options. You can play the scenario, or go for the throat. She just seems a little more inclined to go for the throat.

7) Army Composition
Look to Rhyas' buffs to understand what kind of army she wants to run.

Rapport: bring a warbeast that's got both melee and ranged capabilities. Frankly, the Cariviean comes to mind; Rapport brings it to MAT8 for some punishing melee attacks and RAT6 on the spray is terrifying as well. I suppose you could put that on an Angelius, but it doesn't have the raw hitting power. The Ravagore has similar melee power, but I don't think it necessarily gets the same mileage out of the RAT6. Still, it's worth considering. The Scythean would lvoe the MAT8, but the RAT6 is wasted on it.

Occultation: this makes an infantry unit immune to direct fire, but doesn't do anything for its ability to survive blasts. If you were up for running two infantry units (which would maximize the utility of Dash) then you could go for Swordsmen (and give them occultation) and Hex Hunters. The Hunters go for infantry and the swordsmen go for harder targets. On the other hand, I kind of want to run Warmongers with them (or even Gatormen) as those guys are already resistant to blasts via 8 wounds + ARM16, and Stealth helps get around their lowish DEF12.

Dash: bring at least one infantry unit, and consider more. this makes you want to lean towards Faction models (sorry, Gatorman Posse...). If you want to roll something like Striders, this lets you throw Striders at lower-MAT enemies to try to slow them down, THEN extract them from combat and shoot the enemy in the face.

Past that, keep an eye on melee beasts for her feat, and potentially a Seraph for ranged support and Slipstream.

And, also, consider fury-management solos. You're FURY5. Never forget that. One full-out heavy beast rush can but you up to four fury. You're likely to have Occultation and Rapport out, which means you've got enough fury left to cast Dash and then transfer.

Rhyas is kind of limited, compared to other warlocks. If you want to run melee infantry, though, Rhyas is your wayt o do it for Legion. Like Lylyth, she's simple and elegant (and thus limited), but unlike pLylyth, I think she's a little more limited (Hey, Typhon triple-sprays and Seraphs can reach out and TOUCH someone...infantry may have trouble).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Evaluation of Animi available to the Legion of Everblight

As I have started talking about evaluating warlocks and the need to be familiar with all the various animi at your disposal, I figured I'd do a rundown/evaluation of those available to the Legion, my home Hordes faction.

That being said, I intend to provide a generalized list of the animus and their potential utility.

Lesser Warbeasts
Harrier: True Strike
This animus is situational, as it's range is SELF. It lets the next attack this model makes hit automatically. It turns the Harrier into a homing missile, but...the utility of that is debatable. If you think you might be taking your warlock into melee (and, frankly, there are some that might do that, like eThagrosh, Absylonia, and Rhyas) and you can spare some points for a free hit-buff, then grab a harrier. Otherwise, the animus alone is not worth bringing the beast.

Shredder: Tenacity
Ah, tenacity. It's cheap (both to bring the Shredder and to cast) and it's a general utility spell. The low cost of 1 fury gives you a little more leeway in spending your fury. +1 DEF and +1ARM with a 6" range let you give models that little extra push they might need. You can use it to get a little extra armor on a bigger, easier-to-hit target (IE: Carnivean-chassis models) or help push your defense up a little higher (most of our warlocks go to DEF17 with this up).

Honestly, Shredders are versatile and useful, and this is one of the reasons to bring one.

Stinger: Lurker
1 Fury and a 6" range to hand out bushwhack? This is potentially useful, but doesn't quite have the utility of, say, tenacity. Bushwhack lets you switch up the order of activation: act, then move, but you must make a full advance for that move. This allows a ranged model to fire and back away from a threat, or it can let a melee model beat up what's close to it, and then reposition.

All in all, it's versatile, but not necessarily something you'll field in every list as the Stinger isn't quite on the level of the Shredder for damage output.

Light Warbeasts
Nephilim Bolt Thrower: Glider
Yay, flight for one fury! Downside? Two things: 1) RNG SELF, and 2) this is a faction with a lot of built-in pathfinder and flight. It lets the Neph bolt thrower ignore terrain, and if you have one of our warlocks that doesn't have pathfinder (...ok, we have a few, to be honest) then they might be able to make use of this.

On the other hand, you tend to bring a Bolt Thrower for its other abilities; Glider is really just a supplimental thing for it (and often, it alone). 

Nephilim Protector: Safeguard
Two fury and RNG 6. What's this get you? Immunity to knockdown, and a flat 3-inch reduction on slam distance. Given that knockdown negates the normally-solid DEF values of Everblight casters, there may be some merit in the animus.

However, this animus is attached to a purely-defensive beast (...whoppin' MAT5, PS12 attack, aw yeah...right). The animus is at best situational, but it can totally save your hide in those situations.

Nephilim Solder: Massacre
Massacre is interesting, as it's both efficient and inefficient at the same time. It's 2 fury and RNG 6. The target can charge without being forced, and if it kills an enemy model with the charge attack it can advance an inch and make another melee attack.

Now, charging and buying another attack cost two fury. If you botch the first attack, then you're out a fury. So, you're gambling, right? Why would we want to gamble?

Look back to the range: Your warlock (or the Nephilim Warrior itself) can cast this spell on a beast, which can now use all its fury for extra attacks. Take something like a Carnivean with its 3 melee attacks; it's now looking at a potential EIGHT melee attacks (plus the spray for assault) as it runs up, crushes something, moves up, swings again, then buys four more attacks in an orgy of destruction, blood, and maniacal laughter on your part.

The downside is that if you want to maximize Massacre, your boosted charge attack of death is going to be against something you're certain you'll finish off.

Altogether, it's a potentially useful animus, but again the chassis may hold it back as the Warrior is not BAD, but not necessarily GREAT.

UPDATE: this is about the only way the Throne of Everblight is going to make extra attacks.  That thing can ALWAYS love some extra attacks, and the 4" melee range means you can engage a crap-ton of targets.

Raek: Shadow Shift
Two fury to become immune to free strikes; RNG: SELF. This is a situational animus. You are going to use this when you want your warlock to get into melee and they'll have to eat free strikes (IE: maybe they're flying? Thagrosh can do it...) on the way. Now, one school of thought is that you'd simply hand off those potential hits via transfers.

Really, this one ends up being situatioal: 1) did you bring a warlock that wants to get into melee? 2) Will they HAVE to eat free strikes? 3) How many free strikes are they likely to take? 4) Couldn't you just camp fury and gamble on getting there? 5) Do you have enough beasts to transfer the free strikes to?

Ultimately, it's situational. Nice when you need it, but it's not the reason you bring a Raek. No, you bring a Raek for its crazy mobility, and you may or may not remember it has an animus.

Teraph: Counterblast
See also: situational. The Teraph's not the most popular beast, and the animus doesn't necessarily help: it's 2 fury and RNG: SELF. If someone wanders into the command range of this model, they can make one normal melee or ranged attack and then the animus drops.

So, which warlocks have a ranged attack that's worth spending two fury on as a keep-away? The Thagroshes have sprays, but so-so RAT and the ability to potentially hit friendlies with sprays. The Lylyths have bows and one supposes that they COULD use it, but 2 fury is kinda steep for a 5-fury 'lock.

Overall, this one is very limited in its utility by its RNG: SELF.

Naga Nightstalker: Wraithbane
At 2 fury, it ain't cheap, but.  But.  Blessed and Magic Weapon are NICE traits to get.  Consider factions with buffs like Defender's Ward or Arcane Shield, and this is 2 Fury for something like +2MAT/+2 damage, or just +3 damage.  Also, you can shoot folks immune to non-magic weapons, and mess up incorporeal on anything (though as to the latter, the NIghtstalker itself has a magic gun for a face, so yeah).

This thing is not an auto-include; we have our own buffs that can power through enemy defensive buffs.  On the other hand, eLylyth LOVES this thing (What? Passage, choir, menoth, what?  Whatevs.), and in general our beasts love it.  The downside?  2 fury, single target.  Not an auto-include, but it's on a workable package and you have a hellaciously versatile/useful animus against some folks.

Heavy Warbeasts
Angelius: Repulsion
Ok, it does have the somewhat-limiting 'RNG: SELF' and it costs two fury. On the other hand, it's free movement of enemy models: push everyone that's within 2" of you back three inches in the order of your choosing.

Yep. Two fury to free you from melee. Combine this with a warbeast that's actually reasonably solid rolling this animus and maxing out its fury (as it can then do a charge and boost the hit for a sick, sick armor piercing shot, or fully boost its ranged attack) and you have a reasonably useful animus.

It's not something you go out of the way to include in your list, but it will certainly be useful.

Carnivean: Spiny Growth
Two fury and a 6" range for +2 ARM and d3 damage to beasts/'jacks that hit you but don't kill you? This is a bloody solid animus. Legion's not exactly brimming with high ARM, but this can jump most heavies up from 'so-so durability' to 'groan-inducing.'

If you bring a carnivean as a can-opener, you WILL get great mileage out of Spiny Growth. It's an excellent piece of a solid package.

Ravagore: Dragon Fire
The Ravagore is a carnivean that trades a little bit of MAT for its bite and spray, and brings siege weapon in its place. Dragon Fire goes nicely with that, and since you're bringing the Ravagore in a ranged-themed list, then yeah, you'll get good use out of the animus.

So, what's that animus do? 1 fury, range 6, and all your warbeast's ranged weapons gain Continuous Fire. Considering this comes on a beast with a RNG 14 AoE3 shot, that's a nice little suppliment for troop-killing and generally inconveniencing stuff. Other ranged warbeasts can make plenty of use of this, as it's a nice counter to Tough (ok, you made it this time? Whatever. Do it again next turn.) and makes lighter targets very worried about stray shots.

This one's a solid compliment to the kind of list that would favor a Ravagore by nature.

Scythean: Slaughterhouse
1 Fury: target Trollblood or eAsphyxious player cries. This animus is a limited-use compliment to the Scythean,as it's a 1 Fury RNG: Self animus. Simply put, the target ignores Tough and removes the dead stuff from play.

Is it situational? Absolutely. Is it golden in those situations? Oh, yeah.

However, the Scythean's a popular choice for its threat range and sheer damage output; SPD6 heavies with a pair of PS17 reach weapons are capable of reaching out and touching something; add Chain Attack: Thresher to that and, well, yeah.

Slaughterhouse is highly situational, and mainly serves to make a select few opponents weep in public when the Scythean goes chop-happy on them.

Seraph: Slipstream
This is a 1-fury, RNG: self animus that has an insane amount of utility. Why? The model using this animus moves. Then, if it moved within 2" of a friendly faction model, you can place that friendly faction model 2" completely within its current position. Limit: once per turn.

Yep. 1 fury for a free two-inch move. This is in the category of stupid-good. There are a variety of uses for this, and I'll list a few of them below:
1) Another two inches to your threat range
2) pull a model out of melee without eating free strikes
3) another 2" of movement on something
4) get a shooter in range AND keep the aiming bonus
5) non-linear movement: get around an obstacle

Frankly, it's on a workhorse beast (the Seraph is workable at melee and ranged without being spectacular) but you end up with a package that can melee, shoot, AND provide you with out-of-phase movement with very generous conditions.

Honestly, I think Slipstream takes the cake for the most versatile animus in the book at this point.

Typhon: Excessive Healing
2 fury for a 'SELF' animus. Man, there's a lot of 'SELF' stuff in here, isn't there? Well, this one lets you heal d3 from an attack that doesn't kill you, instantly.

Yep. Any time the enemy damages you, you get to heal d3. Maybe there's a reason it's RNG: SELF.

That aside, it basically makes Typhon (and potentially your warcaster) laugh off snipers and low-POW attacks. It helps soften the blow against harder hits, but frankly the enemy can work around this by just hitting you. It really does force the enemy to go for fewer, harder hits to deny you more healing rolls.

This animus is bloody important for harder-to-hide warlocks like, oh, Epic Thagrosh and his DEF13 large-based self. Combine this with the affinity, and suddenly eThags becomes a little more survivable.

Bottom line: you generally take Typhon for his damage output, but he goes very well with eThagrosh because of this and would generally help you with any hard-to-hide 'lock.

Proteus: Snacking
Heal whenever you mulch the living, and RFP 'em to boot.  This is a bit situational, and Proteus himself is far from an auto-include, but the animus is a situational way to RFP stuff and repair minor dings/dents to your beasts.  Bottom line: situational at best; it completes Proteus as a beastie with a lotta random tricks, some of which you'll use.

Closing Thoughts
Legion has access to some pretty solid animi. Tenacity is a wonderful little piece of kit; most of the time you don't see folks leave home without a Shredder because the animus is cheap and useful.

The light beasts don't necessarily have stand-out animi. When you get down to it, they're either situational, or don't come on beasts that lots of folks take (if not both).

The heavies have some great workhorse and general utility animi. I'm a fan of Spiny Growth (ARM18 to ARM20 is a nice jump in durability, methinks) and Slipstream as general utility animi. The others tend to be just plain compliments to the army, but that's not a bad thing. It's just that when you're picking heavy beasts, well, you're dropping 8-12 points on a model that should be crucial to your plan. I mean, it's a chunk of resources, and the animus is only part of that. Bring the beast because it can work for your plan, and integrate the animus accordingly. I mean, frankly, ignoring tough and removing models from play is highly situational.

At any rate, I hope this has served as a useful resource for both Legion players and those that might play Legion.

Ok, someone might have noticed that Belphagor is missing from this list. It's deliberate; I can see Belphagor where his green stuff is drying. However, he only comes with Bethayne; I'd rather keep him in with an evaluation of her because of this.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Evaluating Warlocks

Having done an article about evaluating warcasters, this one won't take as much work. However, you can't do them quite the same.

I'm going to roll through the same basic questions I used for framing a post on warcasters, but the answers will be a little bit different.

1) How vulnerable am I to assassination?
2) Can my warlock kill things?
3) What support does the warlock offer to the army?
4) What's my feat do?

Then, we get to the tie-it-all-together type of questions.
5) How does my warlock like to play?
6) How do they like to win?
7) What beasts/units/solos do they like?

Initial Round of Questioning
1) What's My vulnerability to Assassination?
We start to answer this question by looking at your base side and card. What's your DEF? What's your ARM? How big is your base? How many hit boxes do you have? This is your way of figuring out how easy you are to hit (based on either 2d6 or 3d6 odds, and the occasional 4d6) and how easy you are to damage once hit. Your base size tells you how easy it is to hide your warlock; bigger bases are harder to hide.

Most warlocks tend to be a little...squishier...than warcasters. Some of this may be their specific statline, but the other issue is that unless you've got a buff on you, your ARM is your ARM. There's no overboosting your power field. However, the 'locks have a wonderful trick up their sleeve: transfers.

When you're calculating how hard it is to kill a warlock, you can't get the full story from their card. You can get an idea how easy it is to damage them, but the availability of transfer targets and fury talks to ultimate durability.

Note, though, that warlocks tend to take a fewer heavier hits better than they take the death of a thousand cuts. Why? One fury transfers 4 damage as much as it transfers 14 damage.

2) What's my warlock's personal threat value?
What melee weapons do you have, and what's the MAT that goes with them? Warlocks tend to play closer forward, so you're more likely to use your melee weapons. Similarly, if you have a ranged weapon and a decent MAT, you might be able to sit back a bit more and still contribute.

As a rule, warlocks don't channel spells. There are a few exceptions (spells that turn something into a node, or warlocks that bring their own special-issue arc node beastie) but they are very much exceptions. What's that mean? If you're casting offensive spells, you're gonna be close to the enemy. Most offensive spells have an 8 or 10-inch range, and if you're firing 'em off, then you're close enough for someone to charge or run to engage you. It's not impossible to roll this way, but it requires more attention to threat ranges, lest you be fatally surprised.
3) Spells/Utility
The spell list is one of the biggest differences between warcasters and warlocks. With 'casters, you look at your spell list and you know all the spells you have. This is where it gets complicated.

First, look at your spell list. Some warlocks have as few as three spells. Your spell list will generally speak to your core playstyle. However, your warlock will also have access to a handful of animi from its battlegroup. It opens up some versatility in your forces. It also means you need to familiarize yourself with all your beast' animi in the book. Your spell list might also tell you what to look for with beasts.

Most of the time, an animus that's a buff will have a single target, and they may be specific about what can actually benefit from them. Bottom line: you have more spells to memorize and track, but your beasts can ALSO use the animus. Pay attention to whether the animus has a range in inches or one marked 'self', as the latter limits the use to the beast that owns it and the warlock that runs it. It also means you can get some buffs/effects off outside of your warlock's activation.

Second, check your special rules (if any). Some warlocks have neat extras, like Baldur's ability to heal constructs by spending fury like everyone else can for regular living beasts.

4) Feat
What's your feat do? Most feats tend to fall broadly into offensive, defensive, or denial categories. There are some oddball extras that take a little more though to use, and not all feats are created equally. Maybe your feat is best used early to either soften up the enemy (many ranged feats fall into this category; eLylyth's Field of Slaughter is good for +4RNG and a double-tap on all the's as sick as it sounds). Maybe you have a feat useful for finishing off the enemy (IE: pKreoss knocks you down; rest of the army KILLS YOU). Maybe yours is defensive, in which case it'll buy you time to position for the kill or scenario win.

Round Two of Questioning
After you've looked at the first four basic questions, it's time to put it together and try to get some overview-type answers.

5) What kind of game does your warlock play?
Someone like pSeverius has a 16" control range and access to an arc node, so he can sit WAY behind everything.

Your warlocks, on the other hand, need to be closer to the fight as a rule. Why? You can only force beasts if they're in the controlling warlock's control area. Some support models can extend this range, but the rest of the time, if you want that warbeast to crank out extra attacks after a charge, you've got to be aware of where they are in relation to their controller. It's a change of pace for warmachine players, as you can load a jack up, fire it out, then move the 'caster back up to keep it in control range for the next turn's focus allocation.

You're balancing this with the inherent fragility of your 'lock. I would hazard that warlocks tend to have a DEF/ARM in the 14-16 range, usually with more DEF than ARM. That's what transfers and beasts are for.

Here's another crucial thing to bear in mind with warlocks: attrition is not your friend. You need warbeasts for two things: 1) generate fury for you to spend, and 2) transfer targets. The kicker is that you can't reave fury from a warbeast you kill via a transfer. This shouldn't rule out a scenario win, but your warbeasts are both your sword and shield. Additionally, your warbeasts are likely to be your heavy hitters while your infantry are generally good at killing other infantry. You're also closer to the action (between your need for beast-forcing and lack of an arc node) so the longer things go on, the more likely you are to run out of screening bodies.

Past that, you're looking at your spell/animus list for how you'll play. Usually it's a question of what buffs you have access to in combination what what beasts/infantry/solos you brought. What do they let you do, and how does your feat help you out?

You want to know how close you need to be to the action (which is a function of threat ranges on your beasts, your control range, and range on your spels) and what you're going to do when you get there. Who do you buff, where do you send them, and how do you preserve/utilize your beasts and the life of your warlock?

6) Win Condition
As I've mentioned, warlocks tend to be closer to their beasts than warcasters are to their steam-powered crush-bots. You need them alive for fury, but you harm them to keep your warlock alive. What's this tell you? The clock is ticking.

That being said, you can still win by either assassination or scenario. If you see a good chance to pop the enemy leader, do it. If you're going to go for more attrition, do your best to keep some of your beasts intact.

And remember: play to not lose the scenario at the bare minimum.

7) Army Composition
What kind of army does the warlock want?

What do your buffs do? Are there particular animi that you want to bring? What does your feat do? What units/beasts/solos benefit the most from these? In general, what kind of utility do you have and what kind of utility do you need? Are there any animi in particular that you would like, and can you use both the beast and the animus in the list? Or is one good enough that you don't much CARE about the other (I mean, ok, ignoring Tough is useful but highly situational. The Scythean, on the other hand, is sick enough by itself that you're fine with a situational animus).

Make sure you carefully read what your buffs can target. Some are beast-only, some are unit-only. Some buffs may be cast on warrior models, but it may buff just one model. Keep this in mind when making your plans.

There's also the question of how many beasts you can run effectively, and how many you need. There is not a hard-and-fast guide other than you should probaly bring more than 1-2 beasts*. If you have a couple of beasts, the enemy is liable to prioritize them and screw you out of Fury and transfer targets, which usually means you're gonna lose. You want to be able to keep your warlock in Fury, and you want to make sure you can do so without maxing all your beasts out on Fury (since you can't transfer to beasts with full fury on them). You also want to be able to take losses without compromising your ability to keep your warlock fed.

And, of course, what weaknesses do you need to cover/what support do you need? Look at units/solos that help you with beasts; namely healing and removing fury. Beasts are easier to heal than warjacks, and you only need one unmarked box in a spiral to bring it online. Being able to heal one prior to your warlock's activation (or without spending their fury) can be helpful, and fury removal can let you run up more fury than you might otherwise think safe.

Past that, support is support and beefing up stats/threat ranges/other things applies as it would in Warmachine.

I honestly think that evaluating warlocks is a little more difficult than evaluating warcasters. Why? Two main reasons: 1) durability is harder to gauge due to the magic of transfers, and 2) access to animi and possible neat combinations thereof require you to look at more options and be familiar with them.

That being said, there's a big dividend to playing hordes: the fury system. On the one hand, it's a risk. The best analogy I have for it is that it's like heat in Battletech: run your mechs too hot and they blow up and do bad things. On the other hand, if you don't care what happens (read: can win this turn) who cares if you redline all your beasts? A Hordes army can deploy much more fury than a warmachine army can focus, and fury is more flexible. I mean, good dice on damage can see a warjack total a hard target and still sit on focus, which means wasted resources.

At the end of the day, though, I think sitting down and pouring over a warlock's stats, spells, feat, and the rest of your book will give you an idea of what to do with 'em. This is not a definitive gospel how-to by any means, but I intend to use it as a framework for analyzing warlocks in future blog posts.

*You can get away with fewer beasts if they're tougher, if it's a smaller game, or if you preserve them more. Bottom line: you need your fury. You know this, your opponent knows this. Hell, one of the primary tasks when plotting a Hordes assassination is making sure they can't transfer all the damage away, and you do this by one of three ways:
1) Hit them too many times
2) Hit them too hard so that damage spills over

**Laughter is therapeutic. Maniacal laughter is scientifically proven*** to be twice as therapeutic.

***That's what Doctor Arkadius told me. Didn't think it was worth checking his references.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Evaluating Vyros

It's everyone's favorite sword-wielding elven warcaster, the Dawnlord Vyros. This guy's a little bit of an oddball caster and occasionally gets some flak. On the other hand, I like the idea of crushing someone's face in with a sword, and Vyros can do that. Vyros can also help deliver Warjacks to the fray, arguably faster than the rest of his faction at this point in time.

I'm going to run through the framework I've outlined in a previous post for putting my impressions down.

Round 1: Basics
1) How Hard is it to kill Vyros?
DEF 15, ARM 17, and a small base make Vyros one of the harder warcaster targets out there. Honestly, it's a sold combo of defense and armor: you need to be Terminus to have harder armor, and you're either Legion or eCaine if you have higher defense. He's upper middle-of-the-road for defensive stats, on top of a small base and no rear arc.

If you DO manage to hit him, he's sitting on 18 boxes. Not invincible, but pretty hefty. If he does camp on his focus, he's sitting on DEF 15 and ARM 23.

Invincible? No. But, if he's in terrain he's hard to shoot down, he's not too hard to hide, and he's reasonably durable.

2) Personal Threat Value
Vyros has no guns. He DOES have a PS14 reach sword with MAT 8. More than that, he's got flank [friendly warjack], so if you put a friendly warjack in melee with the target you are a MAT 10 PS14 weaponmaster.

Yeah, Vyros can wreck face. Can he get there? That SPD5 doesn't look too promising, but mobility turns him into a SPD7 Pathfinder, AND he can charge without paying attention at all to forests.

Vyros does NOT really have an offensive spell; technically he has Eliminator but it's half his focus for a POW13, 3" AOE and he can get a 2" move for each enemy it tags. Ok, this isn't bad, but you still probably won't use it so much.

If you fire Stranglehold at someone, it's only 2 focus, but with a POW11 and a need to damage the target you're going to be spending 3 focus because you'll either boost the hit or the power. It's a fun little denial spell that may work, but not a way to kill the target.

3) What kind of spells/utility does Vyros have?
Vyros is friendly to myrmidons, but in a different way than other warcasters. By this, I mean he's got a pair of neat spells and a solid ability to buff warjacks, but he does not have a way to make his jacks for focus efficient, a la Iron Aggression*. He's also sitting on FOCUS 6, and CMD 10.

First, Bird's Eye. That bird isn't for show. Vyros' battlegroup has no rear arc in his control area, and ignores clouds, forests, and intervening models when determining LOS. His buddies can hit you, wherever you are. Do be aware that this can allow the enemy to potentially work around free strikes, since you have to leave a warjack's melee range to get the hit.

Vyros' other moneymaker is Mobility. 2 Focus for Pathfinder and +2SPD for his warjacks. You can use this to fire warjacks through cover, or just to help them pace you. You can also increase warjack threat range; suddenly that Phoenix is hitting you from 13" away through a forest, and crushing your face in with a sword. Or, your other heavies are going 11" and crushing something when they get there.

The other explicit warjack buff is Hallowed Avenger. It's an upkeep that lets the friendly warjack charge for free if the enemy KOs a living target within 5" of the jack.

The last buff is Inviolable Resolve: good for a flat +2ARM and fearless. You do one of three potential things with this:
a) Make a warjack a little tougher
b) Make a Dawnguard unit even MORE annoying to kill (YAY ARM19 after defensive line)
c) make a lighter-ARM unit less allergic to blasts
Honestly, I'd rather use this to put Dawnguard up to needs-warjack-to-kill ARM19, though it doesn't help them against things like Corrosion.

Your other spells are offensive; Eliminator is an AOE with a side of 'move the Vyros'; however it's half your bloody Focus. Stranglehold is 2 focus and has a RNG of 10, but POW11 on top of 'must damage the model' limits the effectiveness of it; if it DOES go off then it makes the target forfeit its movement or charge as the owner decides.

4) Feat
Vyros' feat is one of those 'oddball' feats. If a friendly kills an enemy model with an attack, you get to allocate 1 focus to a friendly warjack in Vyros' battlegroup in his control area. Of note is the part that your own warjacks (especially those with reach) can basically stand still and start cutting everyone around them.

Round 2: Synthesis
5) Playstyle
Vyros has the melee capability and defensive stats to play in the second line. He's still gonna die if the enemy hits him with a fully-loaded warjack or a heavy warbeast with some attack buffs, but that's the game for you. Still, he CAN assassinate personally, especially if he's got Flank from a friendly warjack.

Turn one is probably Mobility + Inviolable resolve, and focus from arcanists to make sure his warjacks move upfield. Turn two may involve more Mobility, and possibly Hallowed Avenger. Note that with both upkeeps up, Vyros has a whopping four focus to hand out, so he's not necessarily going to be fueling a ton of warjacks.

6) Win Condition
Vyros can personally assassinate from 12" away. Measure range (since your threat range with Mobility is 12") and see if you can get a warjack in there, then go forth and beat the holy mess out of the target; if you can't kill it with 3-4 PS14 MAT 10 weaponmaster attacks then you should microwave your dice (or think twice about charging Karchev, maybe, I dunno).

Vyros has no particular tricks for a scenario victory outside of killing the hell out of anything in places you need for the enemy to not be.

Vyros is capable of hurling a fully-loaded heavy great distances; Mobility does great things to the enemy threat range.

If you feel like trying to make fully-boosted Hydra shots work, you can fuel a couple up and then use Bird's Eye to make a jolly lil' jack walk 8" and throw a POW15 up to 15". Hope you hit...

7) Army Composition
I admit that I'm still fine-tuning this. Basic framework involves a couple of heavy warjacks, and a heavily-armored infantry unit to slap Inviolable Resolve onto.

Myrmidon Selection
Phoenix: the Arc Node is optional, but otherwise it's a solid jack.

Hydra: ignoring forests and intervening models is always solid when you're a giant gun. Focus Battery is nice for a guy who likes to hold onto his focus. Might get iffy to keep them fueld, though.

Manticore: covering fire is always tactically useful, and these non-reach guys love an extra couple inches from Mobility.

Discordia: the imprint on top of Inviolable Resolve makes for some VERY hard-to-kill Dawnguard; ARM21 at range means the enemy will either rely on snipers or heavy warjack guns. Failing that, you can always find a use for a boostable spray and an accurate melee warjack.

Chimera: you really don't need a dedicated arc node.

Gorgon: Force Lock checks for the melee range of this warjack, so you double your Force Lock coverage, and make yourself that much more annoying/of a target.

Griffin: now it's an even longer-ranged missile, and a mini-thresher in Feat turns.

Frankly, I think you can make any of the heavies work with him, but I think the Hydra may have issues if you intend for Vyros to fuel them all the way if you want 'em full-up quickly. If you think you'll face heavy ranged combat, consider Discordia.

Unit Selection
Inviolable Resolve suggests you pick up a well-armored unit, which means 'Dawnguard.' Putting Dawnguard up to ARM19 after defensive line makes them a pain to deal with unless the other guy has thresher warjacks, snipers, or ample corrosion.

Dawnguard Invictors give you a shooting game, but suggest at least one Reach warjack to take advantage of Flank once the enemy closes. Invictors also, in a pinch, give you another potential assassination vector by shooting the enemy HQ repeatedly.

Sentinels are fairly self-explanatory: they're hitty, they kill whatever they touch in melee, and only get meaner with ARM19/21. On the flip side, higher ARM does make it harder to trigger Vengeance, but what the hell. Free movement, or more weaponmasters reaching the enemy? If you bring Sentinels, consider Manticores/Discordia for the ARM buff and for covering fire.

Destors are, at this point, a bit of an unknown. With SPD8, they can pace your warjacks. They go up to ARM19 (21 with Discordia) and give you a bit of a ranged game and an army that's happy to relocate on a moment's notice.

If you do take a costly Dawnguard contingent, consider dropping a point on a bloody Soulless escort, since you'r bringing one big, juicy, lethal target (aka brick-in-a-sock).

If Dawnguard isn't your thing, you can make Houseguard Halberdiers annoyingly tough to kill. Base ARM14 is only slightly less than Dawnguard; with Inviolable Resolve it hops to 16. Throw a Shield Wall order on top of that and you've got ARM20 infantry; Discordia pumps that to ARM22 vs ranged. Suddenly, a Defender is wondering why a friggin' elf with a shield didn't go down when it backstopped a cannon round.

Note that you're getting a little more defense (13 vs 12) and you're paying a little less (9 for full+UA vs 11). You're also losing some hitting power, going down to MAT6 and PS10. You can shore that up with CMA and the mini-feat, which is good for Gang. Under gang, your boys can pair up for MAT8 PS14 attacks (vaguely comparable to PS12 weaponmaster attacks, albeit with lower max damage); and if they pull this on a charge, you get friggin' MAT10 PS14 hits thanks to Powerful Charge.

Hmm. AJ the Ronin might've sold me on these guys, as they lose a whopping 1" to the Dawnguard; you bring the UA, walk 6" with Shield Wall, and Reform 3". Ooh, 9" vs a Dawnguard 10" run. Not bad, not bad.**

Points permitting, you could probably find use for House Shyeel battle mages, and with high ARM values firing into your troops with stormfall archers (provided you don't use the Fire round) is even an option.

Bring two arcanists, full stop end of story. You're gonna bring a couple of warjacks, and you're not always high on focus. Either hand out the focus to run, one charge, or buff hitting power. Come on, these guys are almost always useful.

I'm torn on trying to make a Dawnguard Scyir work with this army. Marshalling a warjack excludes it from the feat, Bird's Eye and Mobility. On the other hand, Vyros probably has a mob of Dawnguard for you to use Coordinated Strike with. I figure if you were set on making a Scyir work, you'd take it with a Griffin in support of Invictors.

House Shyeel Magisters can be used to make you throw that heavy warjack (or Vyros) even further. It's another 3" and a useful solo.

Mage Hunter Assassins are ALWAYS scary. Given the kind of threat ranges Vyros can give his warjacks, it probably doesn't hurt to have a psychotic chain-weapon-wielding elf running up a flank and worrying the enemy.

Ghost Snipers can be an auto-focus on feat turn by popping an enemy model.

Lanyssa Rivel's Hunter's Mark is another potential 2" on the (focus-free) charge, but requires her to hit your intended target with a Magic Ability 7 attack.

If you want to make Vyros the primary assassin, Madelyn Corbeau is 2 more points for another 2 inches, but I'm not sure I'd hinge on making Vyros the primary assassin in the force even if he IS bloody scary.

Vyros is likely to be leading (or following closely behind) a force of Dawnguard and a couple of heavy warjacks. Expect him to fire warjacks a fair distance, and while he won't make them sing and dance, he'll increase their threat range and have them avenge insults to his army.

*Iron Aggression: Upkeep spell; the jack gets to charge/slam/trample/etc. for free, and gets boosted melee attack rolls. MAN does it make jacks into wrecking balls.

**Credit to AJ the Ronin for suggesting Houseguard Halberdiers. I don't have 'em at the moment, but I can see these guys competing with Dawnguard here. The only complaint one might have is that Vyros is a Dawnguard caster and these are mere houseguard. Hey, you like Dawnguard so much, consider the Vyros tier list.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Critera for Evaluating Warcasters

Honestly, the leaders are kind of the focal point of a Warmachine army. They provide the spell list and feat around which you'll construct an army. Or, you'll pick a favorite unit/model/what-have-you and then pick a 'caster that fits with them. Either way, part of this game is figuring out just what you're going to do with your leader.

I've spent some time trying to figure out how to approach this question. Here's what I've got so far.

These questions are in no particular order, but here are the things I've started looking at:
1) How vulnerable am I to assassination?
2) Can my warcaster kill things?
3) What support does my warcaster offer to my army?
4) What does my feat do?

Once I've answered those questions, I'll move on to a few broader questions:
5) How does my warcaster prefer to play?
6) How do I win with them?
7) What warjacks/units/solos do they particularly like?

First Round of Questioning
1) What's my vulnerability to assassination?
It's important to know what gets you killed, and how easy you are to kill. What goes into this? The basics aren't too hard: look at your statline.

What's your base size? Smaller bases are easier to screen; a 30mm base can comfortably wander around behind a couple of heavy jacks and can use clouds to great effect. A 40mm base starts getting rougher to hide, as you can use medium bases to screen from infantry. A 50mm base is a special concern; warcasters like the Harbinger, eThagrosh and Terminus require special care to avoid stuff like ranged assassination.

The next part is to look at your DEF, ARM, and the number of hit boxes. Don't kid yourself; DEF 14 and 15 are pretty hittable. DEF 16 is where most warjacks start needing a boost to get the job done reliably, and DEF 17 is where you MIGHT be able to get comfortable. Base ARM speaks to your vulnerability to stuff like blast damage; a DEF 17 warcaster with ARM 13 in base with a low-DEF warjack is begging for a boosted blast damage roll. Always bear in mind that you CAN sit on your focus and boost your field, but that may not save you from a dedicated attempt.

2) What's my warcaster's personal threat value?
You might have to look at your spells for a better idea of this, but you can look at some gear and MAT/RAT values and figure out if you WANT your leader to swing or take potshots. Someone like Kara Sloan, with a high RAT and weaponmaster on a sniper rifle with good range, WANTS to shoot at the enemy. Someone with a RAT 5, POW12 hand cannon, on the other hand, is packing a backup ranged attack. Similarly, MAT 6 and a POW12 melee weapon is not exactly threatening, though there may be some hidden utility there.

Sometimes, casters may need a little outside support to reach their full killy potential: Dawnlord Vyros can get a flank bonus from a warjack to become an effective MAT10, POW14 reach weaponmaster, AND can get SPD7, Pathfinder, and can ignore forests for LOS. Kinda scary, when you think about it.

3) Spells/utility
What's your spell list? What does it do? Do you have offensive spells, buffs to offense, buffs to defense, denial, what? If you have offensive spells, what's your FOCUS stat? What kind of upkeeps do you have, and how often do you expect to have them up? IE: Dawnlord Vyros has a FOCUS stat of 6, and at least one upkeep you'll be using. He also has Mobility, which costs 2 Focus, which he'll probably be using most turns. So, really, he's looking at having 2-3 spare focus a turn for whatever.

If you have offensive spells, your FOCUS stat (and admittedly access to Arc Nodes) is going to determine how effective you can be with them. If you're primarily a buffing/upkeeping caster, then you don't actually CARE about hitting the other guy with your spells.

4) Feat
What's your feat do? Most feats tend to fall broadly into offensive, defensive, or denial categories. There are some oddball extras (IE: pMagnus grants you extra battlegroup movement) that take a little more though to use, and not all feats are created equally. Maybe your feat is best used early to either soften up the enemy (many ranged feats fall into this category; kill the other guy before he gets close). Maybe you have a feat useful for finishing off the enemy (IE: pKreoss knocks you down; rest of the army KILLS YOU). Maybe yours is defensive, in which case it'll buy you time to position for the kill or scenario win.

Round Two of Questioning
Once you've given the first four questions some thought while looking into your warcaster's stats, it's time to look at the broader questions and put it together.

5) What kind of game does the warcaster play?
Do you lead from the front, or from behind? Remember those questions about survivability? You don't want to put a frail warcaster towards the front where they're undefended and open. Some warcasters thrive on leading from the front and getting into the thick of it; the Butcher and Terminus are examples as the Butcher is a walking killzone and Terminus can pawn shots off to his minions while closing in to personally kill the enemy leader. Others may not be in the front, but still want to be moving in close enough to threaten; warcasters like eStryker and Reznik are fully capable of mutilating enemy leaders in 1-2 hits but can use their army to get the job done as well.

Other warcasters that are a bit more frail are probably happy sitting in the back with arc nodes. I mean, honestly, if you don't need to be up front to shoot or stab something, don't be up front. Someone like Severius, with a mighty DEF and ARM of 14, should be using his large control range (16") and an arc node or two to make SURE the enemy has to work to get to them. Honestly, DEF/ARM14 isn't going to stop a blessed thing that wants to kill him. Being out of range, on the other hand, is a fine defense. Same goes for the Harbinger; poor defensive stats are somewhat forgiveable when you have a 20" control range.

After your survivabilty and weapons, look to your spells for a hint on how close you should be. Most buffs have a 6-8" range if they're targeted upkeeps. If you're going to cast those first turn and not cycle them between units, then you don't really need to be that close. pMagnus has several buffs, and once those are out he has one offensive spell with a decent range, and past that? He's probably sitting behind a warjack. (though unlike some, he's perfectly capable of defending himself between an auto-knockdown melee weapon and a solid sword).

Basically, do you need to be close to the action in order to do damage and/or support your troops? How close is 'close enough?' Do you have a way to deny the enemy anything? What does your feat do (offense/defense/denial/other) and when should you use it? How close do you need to be to use it?

6) Win Condition
Some 'casters love assassination; you only have to kill one enemy model to win if it's the right model. Some are capable of playing an excellent scenario game and wearing down the enemy. Some can do both.

This one's a bit trickier. Honestly, the minimum you need to do is make sure you don't lose the scenario. Make sure you don't pull something out of position and end the game this turn. That's a player thing moreso than a warcaster thing, but it always bears mentioning.

The type of victory you want to go for may also play into your force selection.

7) Army Composition
What kind of army does the warcaster want/need?

If you have the ability to bring arc nodes (IE: someone other than Khador) then do you need arc nodes? If you're squishy and have good offensive spells, you might consider arc nodes. If you have primarly buffs, then you may not need arc nodes that much.

What does your feat do? If it favors a specific type of combat, make sure you bring that. Kara Sloan's feat favors a battlegroup that specializes in ranged combat, so don't bring warjacks with melee weapons.

How do you maximize your feat's effectiveness? eKreoss lets people move, auto-hit, AND make an additional melee attack. Unsurprisingly, he likes a lot of infantry to take advantage of this fact. pSkarre buffs to-hit rolls naturally, and hitting power with her feat; considering her spells/feat are 'control area' you can give more models the benefit if they're infantry instead of a few warjacks. On the other hand, eSkarre's denial feat has 1-5 targets, so she can protect a few hardened targets better than a horde of infantry.

Regarding warjacks in general, do you have support for them? Debuffing the enemy or buffing the warjack are both viable sources of support. Bear in mind you're also going to need to fuel warjacks with focus, and not all warjacks have the same demand for focus. A Cyclone can deny a swath of space with zero focus, and the Deathjack and Seether can both crush face. on the flip side, a Leviathan can decimate infantry with eSkarre IF you can debuff the infantry and feed the warjack 2-3 focus.

Do you have any buffs for infantry? It's crucial to read your buffs for 'friendly model' or 'friendly model/unit.' Vyros can give a warjack +2ARM, or he can give a unit of Dawnguard +2 ARM and fearless. It's the same cost; either 1 focus to upkeep a +2ARM bonus for one warjack OR +2ARM on a dozen infantrymen. Sometimes you want to buff the unit, sometimes you want to buff the jack. Figure out how far you can spread your buffs, and bring units that can take advantage of them. If you have snipe, consider bringing someone with a gun, for example.

Another thing to look for when picking your units/solos/jacks is what weaknesses do you need to cover? If you've got a huge warcaster, you might want to consider something with Shield Guard; warcasters in particular HATE the disruptor bolt from Eiyrss. A 3pt Ogrun Bokur or similar bodyguard can nullify that threat. Anyone with cloud effects can keep you out of sight and potentially out of danger. If you don't have a lot of focus to fuel warjacks, then jack marshals and support solos like Arcanists and Warwitch Sirens can help you run your warjacks effectively (though make sure you don't necessarily NEED jacks in your battlegroup, first).

And here's that wall of text you've been waiting for. Honestly, I'm trying to cobble together a framework for evaluating warcasters, and this is the first pass. It's big, but I feel that you kind of need to evaluate your warcaster before you pick the army. Know what the caster works well with, and then build the army. On the one hand, it sounds like common sense, but I really doubt it's that easy to come up with the ideal force, as good stuff isn't always obvious.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

First Impressions: High Executioner Reznik

Ok, so there's been a slight vacation from blogging. I am not dead; just got busy with the whole 'holiday' thing followed by a dose of 'work travelling' think.

I've got some makeup posting to do from some of the games I've played, so this'll be the first of a couple rapid-fire posts.

I'm not gonna lie; I'm a fan of Reznik's fluff (what there is of it, anyway). He's pretty much a machine of heretic-punishment; go forth and wrack the unbelievers. A lot. Oh, and kill it with warjacks, if you're not going to do it yourself.

Reznik's Stats and Gear
Reznik is reasonably straightforward. SPD 5 is a bit slow, but he can fix it. MAT 7 isn't too shabby, either. His DEF of 14 is so-so at best, and ARM 17 is at least solid. Between the defensive stats and a medium base, he's not that easy to hide and not too hard to hit. He's also got a whopping command of 7; I guess when you kill and burn people (especially your own) you're not that inspiring of a figure. Focus 6 is average, and Terror is a neat flavorful extra.

The only piece of kit Reznik's carrying is a PS14 reach sword with the requisite magical weapon. If someone's silly enough to have an upkeep on the target, you get an extra dice of damage on them via Purgation. Also, if you kill a warrior model, you can get a free Wrack once a turn. Hey, that wrack on the back isn't just for show, y'know.

Reznik's melee prowess is better than it looks on paper, though, as he has Engine of Destruction. For 2 focus, he goes up to SPD 7, MAT 11, and PS18. This means he's got a base threat range of 12", so you can conveniently measure your charge range with your control area.

I find that Engine of Destruction is somewhat counterbalanced by the whole 'medium base + DEF 14 + ARM 17" thing, though, so you should probably be careful when using it.

Spells and Abilities
I've already mentioned engine of destruction, and it's a lovely little smashing tool.

Hex Blast
Every caster apparently needs an AoE. Hex Blast drops upkeep and animi while being an AoE 3, POW 13 shot with a range of 10. Considering it's 3 focus, you won't be using it a whole lot, but you at least have the option.

You'll probably throw this out in the first turn or two. It's a flat +2 damage buff with a side of critical fire.

Iron Aggression
Here's your bread-and-butter spell. Target warjack becomes your primary wrecking ball. Boosted attack rolls, free runs/charges/slams? Yes, please. This comes out on turn one, and stays on your primary wrecking ball. This warjack will only need to spend focus on extra attacks, and that just gets horrifying in a hurry.

This one's iffy, and Reznik wishes he could use it better. If you damage an enemy model, a warjack of yours gets to advance (limit: once per turn) for free immediately. The downside? You're FOCUS 6, and it's RNG 10 POW 10. I'd like it more with a Hierophant backing it up, since you'll probably want to boost either the hit or the damage roll, and suddenly it's half your focus right there.

Witch Hound
Did someone tag your battle group with a spell? Someone gets to advance. Yeah, this is a nice extra, since it lets you sing the no-shooty hymn. It also makes spell assassination much more difficult (barring Scourge, which won't let you get out of the way if it hits) since you'll probably back out of range. Additionally, it keeps the enemy from readily pulling your slow warjacks out of position with Force Bolt.

Feat: Judgment Day
Everyone in the control area loses all their focus and fury. No one can upkeep spells in his control area. If you think you want to cast a spell, you catch fire. It's either a setup for assassination (lose your overboosted field; lose your ability to transfer) or forces a warlock to cut for fury the next turn. It's also not something that magic-heavy armies like, as things like the Battle Mages and Druids don't like being on fire very much.

An Army with Reznik
Reznik likes himself some warjacks, though there's probably room for an infantry unit or two.

Warjacks with Reznik
I'd look for quality over quantity with warjacks. Get yourself a nice beat-stick, ideally at least one with reach. The Reckoner is a prime candidate, with SPD 5 and reach. The Templar has reach and beatback, so while it's only SPD4 it can at least get smoe movement out of the deal. With a shield, it also hits ARM21, so it can potentially survive a beating. The Vanquisher gives you the lovely Flame Belcher, in case you need help with infantry.

The Avatar, of course, would love itself some Iron Aggression as well, since it's got the SPD5 and reach.

You probably don't need an Arc Node with him, since the only spell you'd be arcing is Perdition. For those 6 points, you could take a Crusader as a melee backup jack.

Units with Reznik
Bring a Choir. Full stop, end of story. Reznik can make warjacks sick with Iron Aggression, and will have a couple of solid heavies with him.

Reznik's only support for a unit is Ignite. Given his medium base, I'd think about taking a unit of medium-based Exemplars. Cut off the enemy's trample avenue, and hamper LOS as well. Is it perfect? No, but you can at least get some PS14 Weaponmasters out of the deal.

The only other thing that comes to mind with him? Keep an eye towards infantry-clearing if you aren't bringing a Vanquisher.

Solos with Reznik
Vassals are a good first step with Reznik, since he's a jack buddy. Wracks are also a decent idea, just to get him a little more focus. Reclaimers are a thought, IF you're bringing plenty of infantry. However, you'd be spending more points on infantry and less on jacks.

Paladins make fine objective-holders, especially if you bring the Vilmon(ster).

If you want to make use of Perdition, I'd consider a Hierophant. He'll grant you a +2 RNG bonus, but more importantly he'll give you the 1 focus discount on the spell, so you can spend 2 focus and get that boosted shot off. If you're feeling ballsy, you might also be able to cycle Iron Aggression between a pair of warjacks for a total of 3 focus (1 to upkeep, 2 to cast after the discount). It's something to think about against higher-DEF opponents.

If you want to assassinate with Reznik, look for the movement-shenanigans solos. Madelyn Corbeau can give you a nice 2" of non-linear movement.

Gorman di Wulf is worthy of notice, if for no reason other than the smoke cloud as a means of screening the caster.

Impressions on how Reznik Plays
First turn? Cast Iron Aggression, run warjacks. Contemplate pulling focus from a Wrack if you need it to get Ignite out. Then, hand out focus to fuel your psychotic coal-powered crushing machines until

Use the no-shooty hymn for the first turn or two, then switch to 'battle' once you can start hitting things. Think twice if your enemy has some kind of uber-nasty debuff.

If you have a Hierophant, keep an eye out for Perdition targets.

Screen Reznik with infantry unless you find an opportunity to assassinate with him.

Find the best way to put a warjack into the enemy warcaster with Iron Aggression and a full focus load.

Keep an eye on the scenario; more to make sure you don't lose as opposed to a quick scenario win.

Reznik's fun to play if you like to see your heavy warjacks make things dead. If you can get into melee with the enemy, then you can turn them into paste. Reznik's not really fine-tuned into scenario wins, but would LOVE to put either himself or a fully-loaded warjack into the enemy leadership. If that's how you want to roll, that's what Reznik will do for you.