Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Battle Engine Transport Solution?

I'm not gonna lie.  After thinking 'Man, these are sweet models and I cannot wait to paint one or more!' a little voice in my head (one of the many) said to me: "And just how do you propose to transport $84.99 (plus tax) and hours of love and obsessive work without destroying it?"

I had a mental imagine of my Arcantrik Force Generator falling to the ground in slow motion, with the accompanying stock, low, drawn-out 'Noooooo!'  It would shatter into a thousand pieces, and I would sink to my knees, raging at the heavens in the rain.

I was pretty sure that if I dropped a Battle Engine and broke it, that it would a) shatter into a thousand pieces, and b) I would get the atmospheric rain even indoors.

But today, inspiration struck.  At work, while dying on the inside and shuffling papers, I require bitterness, rage, and spite to be distilled into liquid form.
I go through a lot of this black, silken gold*.  I have the $12.99 Mister Coffee** from my undergrad days on my desk, and it brews four cups.  However, I go through coffee at a hell of a rate, as I believe a filter loaded to capacity produces the best concentrated beverage of spite-fuel.

Today, I tapped out another 1 pound 11-ounce container of folgers, and had a thought:

"Man, I bet a Battle Engine would fit in here..."

And you know what?  It does.  A Wraith Engine would certainly fit in there, assuming you didn't make it do some arms-splayed Disco Dance.  An Arcantrik Force Generator will fit in there mostly; I would have to cut notches for the upper part of the legs, but I could still put the lid on afterwards.

Line with foam, and suddenly you have a fairly economical means of transporting your battle engine.

I suppose this is what happens when you substitute strong coffee*** for sleep.

I plan to follow up with pictures about how I jury-rig this affair together.  It even gives your engine a wonderful maybe-the-world-isn't-so-terrible-in-the-morning-after-all smell.****

*Folgers isn't actually paying me for this.

**Mr. Coffee isn't paying me for this, either.

***Your coffee is ready when you put a spoon in it...and instead of standing up, the spoon sinks into it, and you can drink the cup without recovering said spoon.

****The coffee will only fool you, but when you add coffee to the smell of Warmachine, you might have some hope, and indeed condition yourself to equate coffee and happiness.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Moonlighting with Mercs: Menoth

Thus far, I've covered merc options for Cryx and Khador.  As the symbol to the left might indicate (along with the title) this time it's Menoth's term.

I would have to say out of all the factions, Menoth gets a rep for being the least merc-friendly, as I've heard some casters described as 'buff-bots' and this isn't wholly inaccurate.  However, it's not as simple as that.

Unit of Note: Choir of Menoth
Ok, so we're trying to play as merc-heavy as possible.  If you're taking more than one warjack, it's probably worth investing 2pts into the Choir.  +2MAT/+2 damage is pretty disgusting on things that already hit like trucks, and going up to MAT8 on most jacks is also disgusting.  Past that, there's great utility in denying the enemy chances to shoot or cast spells on the jacks.

The Attendent Priest
I have to say when this guy first came out, I think he got the most hate on forums as he was compared to Valachev and Murdoch.  There's a big difference: this guy is FA:2.  As such, you can bring TWO units to turn into token Menoth faction units.  For 2 points, he doesn't bring a ton of melee prowess, but you do get the ability to go Pathfinder at any time, which frees up the way you can approach the target.  Magical weapons are more of a bonus than a necessity, but are the kind of things you're glad you have when you need them (IE: Machine Wraiths going Ghost In The Shell on your jacks).  Denying the enemy the ability to hit you with spells is situational, but some things like Venom and Hellmouth are worth avoiding.

The Warcasters
High Allegiant Amon ad-Raza - Frankly, this guy is a battelgroup-friendly caster.  His spell list and feat mention 'infantry' only in terms of Convection, which kills an infantryman for a focus for a jack.  He also wants a large battlegroup.  Honestly, he's not really what we're looking for hee.

Feora, Priestess of the Flame - We could call her a super-solo and be reasonably accurate.  She has one buff, Ignite, which is +2 damage and critical fire for friendly models/units, so that works for mercs.  Past that, her spells and feat are about spell denial, movement denial (wall of fire) and setting things on fire.  She'd be happy to have self-supporting infantry, because frankly she's not going to help them herself unless you count setting stuff on fire.

Feora, Protector of the Flame - Like the prime version, her only buff is Ignite.  She'll be taking a jack or two to benefit from Escort, and be moving up the field.  She probably wants a Redeemer for the rocket volley, but past that she would be fine with self-supporting infantry.  You do miss out on Inspiration: Flameguard, though.

The Harbinger of Menoth - Parade Float Girl has one faction-specific buff in Crusader's Call (good for +2 movement on charges).  Combine that with a wonderful movement-denial feat (POW14 fire hits for getting closer to her with her mighty 20" control area) and if you're willing to take a couple of priests with your melee guys, you'll enjoy her.  She also buffs accuacy with guided hand, good for an additional dice on melee attack rolls.  The only thing you really miss out on with mercs is Martyrdom, but it's also something of a trap, since she's ALSO a large base with DEF14/ARM14.

The High Reclaimer - Honestly, this guy COULD run with attendant priests, but if the enemy ever KO'ed them, you're screwed.  Why?  Reclaim.  You need lots of friendly faction models, as when they die he gets souls which turn to focus.  I'm not sure I'd really want to risk this guy with merc infantry just to watch the enemy gun for/kill my Priests, and hose me up.  Why is this a worry?  He's FOCUS 5, and while he can deliver an army via Burning Ash clouds, you'll spend the game hoping your priests don't bite it too fast.

The Testament of Menoth - Revive and Reclaim both specify Faction, and like the Reclaimer, your feat is faction-specific.  You stand to lose a LOT if your priests get splattered, and you don't even have a good way to make clouds.

High Exemplar Kreoss - This guy's got a nice cross-section of spells/abilities going for him.  Want a buff?  Defender's Ward, for +2DEF/+2ARM, but you have the 'Faction' tag in there.  So, get a priest.  Past that, you've a pair of so-so offensive spells, and then the ability to shut down spellcasting and/or drop upkeeps.  Just remember that Purification kills your own upkeeps as well.  If/wehn your first Defender's Ward target dies, you can always make a jack more durable, or shore up Kreoss' own so-so DEF14/ARM15 stats.  And, of course, his feat is army-friendly.  This guy is definitely up for some merc work.

Grand Exemplar Kreoss - Unlike his prime version, this one's not so friendly with mercs.  Inviolable Resolve and Sacrosanct both require faction targets, and you get the most mileage out of them on units.  More so than that, his feat loves Faction models; they get an extra melee attack and hit automatically.  Frankly, this guy is like the Reclaimer/Testament in that you probably COULD roll an army with priests, but losing them before his feat is gonna cost you some serious offensive potential.

High Executioner Servath Reznik - This guy has a special place in the black void I call a heart: he knows exactly what he is, and rolls with it.  He's kind of like eFeora in that you've got Ignite and some battlegroup buffs.  If you like Steelheads, then Reznik's tier list in No Quarter 35 deserves a mention; he allows for small-based Steelheads (and Stannis Brocker) and gives them free attendant priests.  Let Steelheads deal with enemy infantry/lighter targets while Choir-backed, Iron-Aggression'ed jacks beat hard targets, and you've got a decent list.

Grand Scrutator Severius - Defender's Ward, Eye of Menoth, Vision and Death Sentence (re-rolls versus a target model/unit) all require friendly Faction models.  This guy's nasty, but his buffs suggest a Menoth-pure army is the way to go.  Like others, you can try this with Priests but be advised that if the enemy kills your priests, you're basically down to Ashes to Ashes, Immolation, and buffing the 1-2 melee jacks you brought.

Hierarch Severius - Amazingly, this guy's a bit more friendly towards mercs.  The only requirement for Faciton models is on his buff of Holy Ward (+2DEF, untouchable by spells), and the rest is a self-buff, enemy debuff, or battlegroup buff.  You're committing to an Arc Node, though, and should probably consider Blessing of Vengeance.  Still, he can work with one priest, and not lose too much if/when the priest bites it.

Vice Scrutator Vindictus - This guy is also fond of Faction models.  He can dump Pathfinder and Defender's Ward on friendly faction models, and his feat is a great way of saying 'Go Ahead.  Hit My Guys, I Dare You'.  The problem is that an enemy can defuse your feat by killing the priests quickly, and then you'e so-so after that.  That, and he likes Holy Zealots, so all in all Vindictus probably isn't the top choice for a merc-heavy list.

Thyra, Flame of Sorrow - Her money-making buff, Carnage, stipulates that you have to be a Faction model to get the +2 to melee attack rolls in her control area.  Her feat also requies friendly faction models for the 2" place, which is sick.  Silence of Death and Occultation are friendly-model spells, at least.  Sadly, killing your priests is a great way to screw you over, so expect canny enemies to try just that if you look to rock Thyra.

Menite Labor Pool

Steelheads - The small-based ones and Stannis deserve special mention with Reznik, as he keeps them in-tier and gives them free Priests for support.  Past that, the Steelheads are a workable self-sufficient set of bodies, and with Defender's Ward the Halberdiers get kinda disgusting at DEF15 ARM15; they're a pain to hit and probably won't care about blast damage.

Blythe 'n' Bull - Not sure I'd waste an attendant priest on them (as you're buffing two models) but if you want Remove From Play in your army, they'll do it for you in melee.

Croe's Cutthroats - Being Stealthy, they're kinda gonna leave the Priest unscreened outside of 5".  They get special mention in conjunction with High Exemplar Kreoss, as knockdown mitigates their RAT5 on poison weapons nicely.  Cutthroats + Kreoss + Living Models = Hilarity for you.

Sam MacHorne & the Devil Dogs - These guys are built to kill anything they can knock down. Note that while Pronto is a nice drive on melee jacks, merc jacks don't benefit from the choir.  However, the defensive stats on these guys are comparable to Steelheads, and Defender's Ward would make this unit annoying to deal with.  You could always use something like a Talon or Buccaneer as a setup for other hitters, though.  The Choir is the one thing that holds me back, though.

Kell Blailoch - he's a magical sniper rifle.  There's no way to get solos in-faction, so bear that in mind when you have buffs.  The magical weapon may not be 100% necessary, but it's there if your particular build could use it.

Anastasia di Bray - Get close to the warcaster and let everything move up/attack?  It'll make opponents think a bit about how they move their caster, and at least it works on all friendly models.

 Madelyn Corbeau - Movement shenanigans for hire, for a single warrior model.  Situational at best.

Rhupert Carvolo - Pathfinder, or Fearless/Tough, or +1DEF/Terror?  Bloody useful, he is, especially since you're probably rolling with some infantry.

The Eiryss's - Curiously, some folks (IE: Harbinger, Kreoss) would probably take the Prime over the Epic, since the Epic's big selling point is being able to drop animi/upkeeps.  The original does have more versatile ammo.

Orin Midwinter - More denial if you can hide him, and a bit of lightning on the side.  Just be sure not to shut down your own spellcasting as well.

Taryn di la Rovissi - You lose out on her ability to screw with screens via Shadow Fire, and I find that to be her major selling point.  Otherwise, she's a pair of magical ranged attacks that can melt jacks (auto d3 to hull boxes isn't terrible, though the POW10 shot is unlikely to do much otherwise).  However, Menite jacks tend to, y'know, hit like trucks.

Rutger Shaw - He really wants to run a melee jack, and I can't help but think Choirs make menite jacks do it better.

Gorman di Wulf - Who doesn't love this guy's utility?  Seriously.  Walking debuffs 'r' me is his name, and as an added bonus he's immune to fire, which Menoth loves.

Privateers - Again, the whole package is ~16 or so points for Sea Dogs and supporting solos, or you can roll with Press Gangers.  The downside is that you can't bring solos into Faction status, so that limits some of the buffs.  Still, these guys can work as a decent melee core, and DEF15 from Defender's Ward and the like is obnoxious.

Aiyana & Holt - You won't need to bring them to faction status, honestly.  Their damage buff is never a bad thing, but their ability to grant magical weapons does overlap with the Attendent Priest.

Dirty Meg - She wants a melee jack.  You have access to choirs.

Horgenhold Forge Guard - They get a mention with the Harbinger due to Crusader's Call, and with Ranked Attacks, you can even put guns behind them.  When it has to hit like a truck, call Horgenhold.

Herne & Jonne - Want AoEs?  Menoth has sources too, but these are mercs, if that's what you're looking for.

Ogrun Assault Corps - They're generalists, with nice AoE guns and a decent POW12 axe.  Casters with Ignite might look at these guys for their infantry, since POW14's respectable enough and they can take some abuse with 8 wounds apiece.  Also, being medium bases, they can hide the priest a bit better.

All things considered, Menoth DOES have some neat suppot pieces that stipulate faction-only, like the Covenant.  You're going to miss out on some support if you go merc-heavy, but frankly that goes for ANY faction that goes merc-heavy. 

That being said, the Feoras and Reznik are top for merc compatibility, as they do not require attendant priests.  Reznik even has a Steelhead-friendly tier, for that matter. 

The Harbinger, High Exemplar Kreoss, and Hierarch Severius can work with the addition of Priests. 

Amon ad-Raza is a battlegroup-only guy, and the remainder of the casters are really, really hoping the enemy doesn't wise up and kill the Attendant Priests, as that costs you a lot of capabilities.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Moonlighting with Mercs: Khador

One way to rationalize buying mercs: "Oh, Hey, I can roll them with a faction, or use them as a core and add a faction battelgroup, and it's cheap!" All you have to worry about seems to be 'friendly' versus 'friendly faction', right?

Khador's got the hard hitting covered with their jacks, but unlike Cryx, they actually tend to buff their own guys some. Also unlike Cryx, a few more folks will work for Khador.  EDIT: I've added Harkevich from Wrath, since I laid hands on the book now.

Koldun Kapitan Valachev

Valachev may not be a bad purchase if you're going to roll with mercs. For 2pts, you make a merc unit a friendly Faction unit. The question of whether his unit +2pts is superior to a similar Khador unit is valid, but I am not going to address it in this article. Honestly, he favors shooty mercs more than melee. Why? Well, first, you've got a spiffy spray you can't fire in melee. Second, there's this thing called Zephyr: as a special action, you get a 3" move with immunity to free strikes, which can either be +3" range (which you can get with an aim action) or use to back out of melee. Disbinding is also nice, as if you're eating a debuff, you can disbind and still shoot.

Kayazay Assassins

If you're playing the Four Star Syndicate, you may very well have a set of these guys. A full set and UA runs you 10 points, which is plenty sizeable for a game. Working them in pulls double duty for you: you have a merc unit, but you're also friendly faction, which helps for buffs. Between Kayazy and Valachev, you might be able to field an army that is full-up 'faction' in terms of its units.

Availability of Jack Marshals

I'm going to have to go on record and suggest that if you're evaluating jacks for marshalling with Khador, I would stick with ranged jacks. Having one pseudo-focus from the marshal is much more convenient for a shooty jack than a ranged jack. Would you rather pay 6 points for a Nomad that can swing twice with a PS16 sword, or a Juggernaut that can swing a big axe four times? You just get more bang for your buck with melee heavies on a caster, is all I'm saying.

The Warcasters

With these preliminaries out of the way, let's talk about the actual casters in Khador.

Kommandant Irusk - Battle Lust and the feat, Undying Loyalty, are big on Faction models. If you want to rock pIrusk from the merc perspective, you'll probably want Kayazay and Valachev in there to maximize your returns. Past that, you've got a solid DEF buff in Iron Flesh, a jack buff in Superiority, and even a way to KO stealth via Airburst. This guy's solid, though from the merc perspective he's somewhat limited.

Supreme Kommandant Irusk - Hey, he can hand out Pathfinder on a large scale! Aritifice of Deviation is NICE, and mercs can benefit from it. Battle lust is still there and it applies, but Tactical Supremacy is actualy merc-friendly, so you can grab a 3" move from anyway. However, the Feat (a giant 'I own mobility on you here, now) Martial Discipline (I have no traffic issues with infantry) and Total Obedience (those wtihin 10" of me are Tough) are all Faction only abilities. Oh, and Fire For Effect is faction-only. Sadly, running merc-heavy with Irusk is difficult; anything less than Kayazay and Valachev is missing out on some serious benefits.

Karchev the Terrible - Unless the word 'battlegroup' is in Karchev's spell, it's an offensive thing. Frankly, if you're going to run infantry with Karchev, he's not going to mind some self-sufficient footsloggers. The only downside is that you're going to be bringing some expensive jacks, so thee you go.

Old Witch & Scrapjack - Oh, we got a winner here. Her buffs are either related to her battlegroup, or friendly-model: +3DEF from Iron Flesh, or camo+Pathfinder from Weald Secrets. Add a battlegroup that ignores forests and clouds, and a feat that is a giant screw-you to mobility? The Old Witch is ripe for merc-based operations.

Kommander Sorscha - Fittingly enough, the battle box caster is a solid shoe-in for working with mercs. Boundless Charge is pure jack support. Freezing Grip and Tempest are all about immobilizing the enemy (and are also expensive & short-ranged), and her one support spell is Concealement for everyone around. Her feat is a nice accuracy buff, which means if if you have inaccurate troops, you can do a hell of a lot of damage during feat turn. Add a couple jacks, and then any mercs you want, and you can skip Valachev.

Forward Commander Sorscha Kratikoff - You might want Valachev with the epic version of Sorscha. Why? Shatter Storm. Kill an enemy, and they turn into a 3" AoE good for POW8 blast damage. You either want this on ranged stuff, or well-armored melee unit. Past that, her feat helps you do damage and doesn't care about faction. The downside is you lose out on Desperate Pace and Elite Cadre for the Winterguard, but you can make her work for mercs.

Kommander Strakhov - This guy's a bit harder to play with a merc focus. Why? his one unit/model buff, Occultation, is 'friendly model/unit'. The problem is in using this guy's feat: you want melee units for that happy +4" movement and Pathfinder, but Valachev prefers shooters. I'd go with Kayazay, but honestly I think you can do better with pure-faction as opposed to mercs when it comes to Strakhov.

Vlad the Dark Prince - Vlad's kind of a Faction guy, when he's not being selfish. Blood of Kings is all about Vlad, and Boundless Charge is all about the battlegroup (kinda like the feat...). Razor Wind is the obligator OH CRAP NEED MAGICAL WEAPON AT RANGE! spell. Signs and Portents is Vlad's favorite support, and it's for attacks. However, it's for ANY attacks, so you can get some use out of Valachev. Wind Wall is great for shooting denial, but Valachev likes the shooty. Honestly, you might have some fun with shooty troops and Kayazay, but unless you have Kayazay don't bother with Vlad. Ironically, I'm pretty sure the kayazay and Vlad don't get along in the fluff.

Vlad the Dark Champion - Don't bother. eVlad's spells that help troops are all about helping friendly faction melee models, as is the feat. I have to say this guy's sub-optimal for our purposes. You could work it, but it's not going to give you nearly as much mileage.

Koldun Kommander Aleksandra Zerkova - Amusingly, Zerkova is plenty suited to leading a merc army. She has one spell that impacts friendlies, and Banishing Ward is useful AND not concerned with the faction thing. She's a toolbox, and would be happy for you to bring self-sufficient troopers.

The Butcher - His two buffs aren't concerned with Faction status; Fury gets you +3 damage and -1DEF while Iron Flesh is good for +3DEF and -1SPD. Frankly, these two spells suggest you play Kayazay so you can first deliver them, then turn them into axe murderers. The only reason I suggest the assassins is because Butcher's feat IS faction-specific, and loves the volume of attacks for extra dice. Hey, Kayazay + ranged troopers would be quite fun. He's not uber-ideal, but if you have Kayazay and a ranged unit, you can have some fun.

eButcher - eButcher could theoretically dig some merc support, as he's mostly likely to wander around with a jack trailing him while ignoring his army. Well, he ignores the army 'til he's in melee, then everything within 2" of him is busy getting some Lola to the vitals. The only downside is that you'll miss out on the feat if you take mercs, but you could make him work with self-sufficient mercs and an early feat to use what faction models you brought.

Kommander Harkevich, The Iron Wolf - Honestly, this guy is pretty focused on his battlegroup: he gives them Pathfinder for free, lets them shoot more often with Broadside, makes them faster with Escort, and has Jump Start in case the lot of them gets put on their back.  His feat is purely for his battlegroup.  The only non-jack buff he has is Fortune, and while re-rolls on missed attacks are sweet, it DOES require faction-status.  Either bring Valachev, or just slap it on a jack with enough attacks to make it worthwhile.  Harkevich can make mercs work just fine.

Mercs That'll Work For Khador

Steelheads - You can get cav, halberdiers, and shooters. For those that don't care about merc support, you can always dump 19 points on full halberdiers, full riflemen, and Stannis Brocker for a self-contained trooper core. For those that want shooters, you could always go with Riflemen, but they're a chunkin' 9+2 points.

Alexia & the Risen - If you want to recycle and love meat shields, you could always add Alexia behind a couple units of Halberdiers, or some Kayazay. I'd keep that in there for a larger game, at best.

Blythe & Bull - The main reason to take these guys is if you want an RFP effect. If you'e going to take them, you'd probably rolling with a caster that has zero need for Faction models, since they're four points and benefit most from being in melee for their Takedown.

Boomhowler and Company - Frankly, they're a tarpit. If you can help with their damage output (IE: Fury? POW15s from these guys?) or durability, they'll be happy. As they are chiefly melee, you might be leaning towards these more with a caster that cares nil about a faction-heavy army.

Croe's Cutthroats - If you can help their accuracy, they'll love you. They can shoot, or they can melee. These guys can work, but they're a bit expensive, and REALLY want to aim or get an accuracy buff. Fortunately, someone named Valachev can get them a 3" move and keep the aiming bonus. They might be worth a look.

Cylena & the Nyss Hunters - They can shoot, and they can melee. If you want both in a unit, pay for these guys (and have fun assembling them...). They are disgustingly mobile, and capable of killing infantry at range and hard targets up close. They'll be fine with or without Valachev.

Kell Bailoch - It's a long-range magic weapon that's accurate. This is a fine addition to a Khador army even if you're not going to go merc-heavy.

Madelyn Corbeau - She can help move models around; you may or may not need this.

Eiryss, either version - Solid utility. You would probably consider the epic version even if you weren't going merc-heavy, just for the utility.

Orin Midwinter - If you want some anti-infantry in a solo, here's a guy. He's fine operating on his own, and capable of locking down the enemy nicely if you can screen him from the other guy.

Reinholdt - Got a gun, or need a magic attack to hit? he's solid utility for a lot of folks for a point, no more and no less.

Rutger Shaw - Hey, it's a jack marshal! He can grant a re-roll with his drive, but on the downside? He's a solo, and he's not THAT had to remove.

Harlan Versh - Did someone buff a unit? Cool. Have four fully boosted POW10s from this stealthy jerk. Oh, and don't cast spells near him, because he will shoot you in the face.

Gorman - If you've read his grenade list, you'll probably think about taking him.

Sea Dogs - The basic units and their buff solos will work for Khador. You'll want to bring all their support just because it's a solid package. Compared to the 'Steelhead Package' it's not really got a ranged component (Not fond of artillery, and pistols aren't really that ranged), and it's a bit more solo-heavy to get the full effect. If you take the unit-supporting solos and a full-up Sea Dog Crew, you're looking at 16 points, which is a fair chunk of a 35pt list. They're more durable than the Steelhead block, but lose capabilities as you lose solos. But, hey, pirates, right?

Ayana & Holt - it's the kind of damage buff output you'd think about taking if you could hire it and spare the points, right?

Dirty Meg - She would probably be more impressive if several casters didn't have Boundless Charge. As is, she wants to have a melee jack. However, if you want ranged knockdown, Pathfinder on a Buccaneer could be amusing.

Hammerfall Gun Corps - You can get ARM19 guns with combined ranged attack, and the UA can give you more dakka, or more movement. You can also get a jack marshal off of them, albeit without any drives. Not bad, but they ARE bloody slow. You don't really get to maximize Ranked Attacks in the army, either.

Herne & Jonne - If you want AoEs from mercs, take them. If not, don't. Valachev can technically give them another 3" of range, but I'm not sure I'd dump a 2pt UA into a 3pt unit.

Ogrun Bokur - He slams things and eats bullets. As ever, he's a solid 3pt utility solo, but it's a question of whether or not you have the space for it.

Thor Steinhammer - Do you want to run light jacks? Then this is how you can get light Khador jacks, outside of the Old Witch. I would think about giving him a Blaster or two for antipersonnel duty, and then probably a Bokur or something else for a screen. With Pronto and Tune-Up, you can end up with a RAT7, boosted-damage POW10 spray for heftier infantry, or a boosted ranged attack roll. I wouldn't trust a heavy melee to his care, though, just because you're painting a HUGE target on his head. The only exception would be a Basher, because of its versatility (due to Flak Field) and the joy of Pronto for setting up slams from fun angles.

Altern Ashley - Exceedingly situational, as he's gunning only for beasts, and only so-so at that.

Gudrun the Wanderer - If you want to draw fire from a guy with low-DEF units, take this guy. Alternatively, he's a fine objective-sitter, because he can take two rounds of gunfire (kill him once, he falls down and you can't shoot thim. He can then fall down himself and not get shot again...) He wouldn't mind an accuracy boost, though.

Saxon Orrick - PATHFINDER! Technically he has some extras about messing with beasts and RFP, but pathfinder is his selling point.

Rorsh & Brine - If you have a damage buff like Fury you can slap on Brine, you can get a hard-hitting, independent heavy. Otherwise, well...you can take it, but it's not a hell of a hard-hitter.


If you want to go merc-pure, the Old Witch and pSorscha have no problems giving them all the support a full Khador army would normally get from them. Karchev has nil support for infantry altogether, so if you have points left you've no problems with support. If you have Kayazay, you have a few more options because you can take a faction melee unit, and grab another 'faction' unit via Valachev. pButcher and pVlad can technically make it work, but I'd stick with pButcher for that. The Irusks are kind of workable with Valachev. Strakhov and eVlad are pretty much out.

I personally would probably go with Old Witch, pSorscha, and maybe pButcher with some Kayazay (because DEF19 melee troops might get you sock-jacked, which is probably a good sign for their utility, right?).  Harkevich could work too, but you might want Valachev.  Then again, you could probably do fine without him.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Moonlighting with Mercs: Cryx

One reason I've convinced myself to by mercs is that it theoretically lets me experiment with a variety of factions without having to commit too many resources. It's the magic of 'friendly' versus 'friendly faction', which can narrow down your choices.

EDIT: I've added a note on the Withershadow Combine, and added Lord Exhumator Scaverous, which I missed as I did not have Wrath when I wrote this.

A Note on the Withershadow Combine
Generally, the idea with this series is to focus on the mercs the factions can take.  Most other factions have ways of stripping upkeeps, either from themselves or others.  Cryx's character unit is the only in-house way Cryx has of removing enemy upkeeps, and they help your caster by providing one free upkeep.  It's worth a mention, as you don't have access to this via mercs, and at 5 points they're reasonable enough in a 35pt list.

The Casters

Cryx, as they tend to specialize in harming the enemy versus helping themselves, sounds good at first glance. However, Cryx has a somewhat more restricted selection of mercs at their disposal. I will start first by determining which Cryxian casters I would want to try with mercs, then worry about which merc units I'd take.

Iron Lich Asphyxious - His unit buff, scything touch, is good for +2 damage for any friendly units/models. Parasite, of course, matters only in terms of getting the hit off. His feat is purely selfish. As such, this guy is a solid start for mercs; as long as you can hit with them, you can do some damage either in range or melee. Just bring arc nodes and perhaps a helljack.

Lich Lord Asphyxious - He's not nearly as friendly as his prime version. Excarnate is undead-only, and the feat is faction-specific. Frankly, I would skip him for this exercise. At best, mercs would be supplimental, which is not quite the point of this exercise.

Warwitch Deneghra - Let's see. Her one buff is friendly model/unit. She can boost accuracy (via crippling grasp and the feat) or debuff armor (via parasite, crippling graps, or the feat). Bring her a battlegroup, and you can even do pop 'n' drop with some ranged units and Scourge (IE: Steelhead Riflemen, perhaps?) She's a solid candidate for a mostly-merc army. I guess she can buy some plausible deniability, right?

Wraith Witch Deneghra - She keeps Ghost Walk, and still has an ARM debuff and DEF debuff. Still solid, after you pack in some arc nodes.

Goreshade the Bastard - The one spell he's got that worries about troopers specifies friendly only, so you can still Soul Gate something back home. Past that, Goreshade offers nil suppot to troops, and can Stealth his battlegroup. Bring mercs that are self-supporting.

Goreshade the Cursed - You miss out on Sudden Death and the feat, as well as the Elite Cadre. Honestly, I feel like you're missing out on some of the epic 'Shade's abilities if you want to run a merc core.

Master Necrotech Mortenebra - Frankly, she's all about her battlegroup with her spells/abilities/feat. You could probably get mileage out of Boomhowler's or Steelhead Halberdiers as a screen, but I'm really not sure she's suited for the merc-heavy theme.

Pirate Queen Skarre - Between Dark Guidance and Blood Magic specifying Faction models, the pirate queen isn't too big on hired guns. She offers plenty of support to infantry, just not merc infantry.

Skarre, Queen of the Broken Coast - eSkarre is more about the battlegroup, though Black Spot works on mercs...partially. Mercs won't get the extra attack, but -2DEF still helps you with a hit. I'd have to say that eSkarre is in a similar boat as Morty: maybe a little as a screen, and I'd probably skip on merc shooting as I'd want faction models to take full advantage of Black Spot.

Lich Lord Terminus - Between Abomination and Sacrificial Pawn [Undead] I think it's safe to say Terminus is kind of a Cryx-only guy. Just sayin'.

Lich Lord Venethrax - He wants a friendly faction model/unit for Soul Harvester, but past that he's self-centered and offensive. Considering a psychotic Gerlak Slaughterborn could serve as a fine soul harvester, I think Venethrax is a fine candidate for self-supporting mercs.

Witch Coven of Garlghast - Ghost Walk and Occultation are perfectly fine with mercs, though Veil of Mists will only screen them. Add in an armor debuff, and as long as the mercs can hit on their own, you should have some options.

Lord Exhumator Scaverous - He's the new guy on the block, fresh from Wrath (and hence being added in via edit...).  He's reasonably friendly towards mercs, with a couple of debuffs (-2ARM from Feast of Worms, and -2 DEF and hamstringing from Icy Grip) and Ghost Walk.  Telekinesis is hideously versatile; you can drag something a little closer and give everyone a backstrike bonus, or move your own hitters up.  Death Ward would be wonderful on a unit, but you can always use it to help your own battlegroup, either by buffing a melee jack (Erebus reaches a stupid-nasty DEF14 ARM20 with it, which is sick for Cryx) or maing sure an arc node keeps its node functional after some damage.  Excarnate suggests you bring undead, and in fairness you are losing out on it.  The feat would be more of a loss if Cryx had any units with Magic Ability, but a Warwitch Siren or two and/or the Withershadow Combine would be a sufficient addition to help, plus the jerk can throw out a crap-ton of TK on feat turn.
I like him for mercs, even if you lose out a little.

The Mercs

As I mentioned, our favorite undead nation does not actually attract a lot of potential employees. I guess no one likes the retirement plan, but money's money, right? It's worth noting Cryx does not have access to any merc jack marshals, which is probably just as well, considering what a Mule could do on a target suffering from Parasite.

Steelheads - You can get cheap melee bodies, you can get some decent cav that goes with the cheap melee bodies, and you can get some actual ranged attacks for your Nightmare Empire. With combined attacks (or flank on the cav), these guys can be reasonably accurate, especially with some of the defensive debuffs open to Cryx. I started this exercise thinking about running a full unit of Halberdiers, a full unit of Riflemen, and Stannis Brocker.

Cryxian armor debuffs help Steelheads hit harder, which is one of the complaints I tend to hear about mercs. A Halberdier double-team is suddenly MAT7, PS16 under Parasite, and goes up to a silly MAT9, PS15 under Crippling Grasp. The Riflemen are similarly disgusting, with the added bonus of Combined Arms.

Boomhowler & Co also appreciate the debuffs. While they have combined melee attack, the base size makes it difficult to get more than two guys into any given attack, and they don't hit particularly hard. Still, I suppose you can get a tarpit and some lethality, as well as a trample shield, out of these guys.

Croe's Cutthroats LOVE a DEF debuff. With a base MAT6 and RAT5, the poison weapons might actually do some serious damage. Even parasite won't mitigate the otherwise-low POW, but in a larger game I can see them benefitting from a DEF debuff as long as you've got some heavy hitters in your list.

Cylena Raefyll & Nyss Hunters - They'll be happy with Cryx, I think. If you're only looking to invest in one hefty unit, you can get both ranged and melee out of them. Get a DEF debuff to make sure that MAT6 can work in melee, and a DEF debuff will help them nail high-DEF infantry at range without having to do an excessive amount of teamwork. With Pathfinder, they're not as reliant on something like Ghost Walk for mobility.

Orin Midwinter - It's not like Cryx is low on magical attacks. Null Magic can work for you, but it poses an order-of-activation issue for you. I guess if you want to challenge yourself, or run a flanker with some anti-infantry capability, there's always this guy.

Gorman - He's good. Cryx can help him hit better, and/or just make a warjack CRY as it eats -5ARM in a turn.

Sea Dogs - The basic units and their buff solos will work for Cryx. You'll want to bring all their support just because it's a solid package. Compared to the 'Steelhead Package' it's not really got a ranged component (Not fond of artillery, and pistols aren't really that ranged), and it's a bit more solo-heavy to get the full effect. However, I don't believe Cryx has access to a psychotic acrobatic model like First Mate Hawk. If you take the unit-supporting solos and a full-up Sea Dog Crew, you're looking at 16 points, which is a fair chunk of a 35pt list.

Master Gunner Dougal MacNaile - Sadly, artillerist won't help Cryx, so this guy's mostly a wash unless you want to bring Sea Dog Deck Gun Crews.

Ogrun Bokur - Solid utility, and has the distinction of being one of two Rhulic solos that will actually work for the Nightmare Empire. As ever, you'd bring him to backstop bullets that would otherwise be addressed to more valuable targets. He's also got the distinction of being the only Shield Guard available to Cryx.


Frankly, I like the Deneghras and Iron Lich Asphyxious for merc-centric forces. Sadly, you're limited to merc units/solos, but given how focus-efficient you can get with Cryxian helljacks, I don't find that a major downside. Crippling Grasp is the standout, as you can get effectively +2 to hit and +2 damage against a target. Hell, even lowly Halberdiers going solo can rack up effective MAT9 PS15 swings on feat turn against CG'ed targets. It's just plain wrong.

I currently favor Steelheads for these two, as they're inherently self-supporting, and you can pick between volume of attacks or quality of attacks for the issue.

Just be aware that mercs tend not to be fearless, so the lovely Deathjack and its abomination might not be high on the list.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ashlynn at 35

I have taken a break from the Everblight to sample the joy that is Mercenaries. As of late, I've been rocking Ashlynn d'Elise at the 35pt level of our map league, and have been enjoying her.

The List

Ashlynn d'Elyse


Arcane Tempest Gun Mages with UA


10 Horgenhold Forge Guard

Ayana & Holt

The Piper

epic Eiryss

The Breakdown

I've been keeping an eye towards the feat with Ashlynn, and if I can get a neat critical effect into the build, then why not? More tools, the merrier, right?

The Mangler is there to give Ashlynn a melee beat-stick that uses her jack points. It is a bit expensive, but it's got a solid threat range and can either beat up hard targets, or tear up some infantry without a lot of work. Plus, Admonition can help me keep the big lug safe.

The Gun Mages are ranged anti-infantry support. With the UA, they can work around Stealth. Thunderbolt is useful even without the crit, though Critical Brutal Damage is nice for the feat. Plus, hey, they can give me Snipe on the Mule without burning focus. It's a good source of anti-personnel and control.

The Mule? It has a devastating critical, and the ATGM UA lets me Snipe the thing. I mean, what's not to love? Solid AoE damage, enough power and RAT (especially with an aim action) to threaten heftier targets...it's solid all around.

The Forge Guard have a few solid offerings. First, Ashlynn's Quicken puts them up to a respectable SPD6, turning a slow unit into one with a very respectable threat range. The DEF bonus is largely wasted, but Defensive Line lets them pull together to shrug off low-POW hits. Ranked Attacks is another major consideration, as I can keep shooters behind them without caring about LOS as much. Finally, Critical Smite is some nice potential utility on Feat turn, though it costs that guy damage output. The most common use I can think of is making large targets fall over and get auto-hit, as any of the more nuanced uses of slams might be a bit harder to pull off, given that there's no boosting and angles matter.

Ayana and Holt do what they do: Mercs are a bit short on magical attacks, and the utility of Kiss of Lylyss only grows as you up the volume of attacks. And, well, Holt shoots things.

The Piper is there to assist the Forge Guard, or in a pinch up the DEF of the gun mages to 'hope you have blast template' levels.

Epic Eiryss is there for utility, pure and simple. With only one battlegroup jack, it's harder for me to hurt myself with Arcane Interference.

Possible Changes

Admittedly, the list has 9 points sunk into support solos, and I could always trim the Mangler down into something else. I think the Forge Guard and Piper are definitely going to stay, as reach weaponmasters with SPD6 and pathfinder or tough are hard to argue with. The Gun Mages and Mule mesh nicely with the ranked attacks on the Forge Guard, and they give me anti-personnel to go along with the Forge Guard's hammers.

Epic Eiryss is just too useful to lose, between the chance of knocking out terrifying buffs on the enemy and/or the odd crippling debuff on something of mine (moreso the former than the latter).

That leaves the Mangler and A&H as room for alterations. As it stands, the Mangler costs me 2 points after Ashlynn's jack points, so I'd be looking at 6 points of wiggle room at best. I kind of want to keep a heavy warjack in her battlegroup, just tgo give me some crushing power. A Nomad loses the Thresher, but can still beat the tar out of hard targets. I can probably lose the thresher, given the volume of attacks I have available elsewhere.

So, what to do with that last 6 points, assuming I drop A&H? I could add a full unit of Steelhead Halberdiers, or a min unit with another support solo. It's more bodies and potentially more utility, but I'd be dedicating those guys to a flank as they'd be in the way of Ranked Attacks from the ATGMs. I could grab a min unit of Boomhowler's. I could take an Ogrun Bokur, a 2pt solo and Reinholdt...the list goes on. My problem with taking another unit is that they're either gonna have guns, or need Ranked Attacks.

On Ashlynn Herself

Most of the time, turn one has been handing out Admonition on the Mangler, Quicken on the Forge Guard, and allocating one so the Mangler can run. That leaves Ashlynn with ~4 focus, enough to fuel the jack or kick off an offensive spell. I don't think she needs another melee jack, just from a focus standpoint. I suppose I could forgo the melee heavy and use Ashlynn herself, but that's a) risky and b) she doesn't hit THAT hard.

The rest of her spells are fairly situational. I've yet to find a good use for Twister; I would love to block LOS with it but placing it accurately requires a target. At best, I could sacrifice a pair of Forge Guard to dump some clouds into place (and they might even survive, if in Defensive Line; I'd need 9+ to kill the direct hit guy...).

Gallows would be nicer with an Arc Node, though it's a good tool to have. I'm using most of her focus to get it off, likely with a boost to reel a target in. On the downside, I'm probably dragging the target into striking range of Ashlynn, so this one's a no-go unless Admonition is on her, or I can otherwise keep her safe.

Flashing Blade is, of course, fun when the enemy tries to close with you and doesn't kill you, or if you've an opportunity to take a chunk out of the enemy. Frankly, I think that Admonition is almost a must on Ashlynn if you want to get use out of her to kill anything, but there are still ways around DEF17.


I've enjoyed Ashlynn; even if I lose, the feat turn feels like a victory because of its ability to frustrate the other guy's plans. So far, I've preferred to keep her in the back as support, though it's nice to know I can plop admonition on her and go forth to destroy things.