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, 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.


Von said...

Hey there - I like this series of posts so much that I've linked back to them from one of my blogs, in which I talk about more affordable ways to play Warmachine.

Raptor1313 said...

Von, thanks.

The plan is to roll through the other 3 warmachine factions at this point (at least the Retribution one will be quick).

I would consider this for minions, but frankly I don't think the minions have diversified enough as a faction yet to really merit such analysis. I would probably end up coming to a handful of units (like I have here, with the 'Steelhead' and 'Pirate' blocks...) but they'e a little more flexible and worth more discussion than 'Take a Gatorman Posse' is.

grumhelden said...

Great post, cant wait for Menoth :()

Anonymous said...

You can actually use valachev's spray in melee as it's a spell and not a ranged attack.