Sunday, July 31, 2011

Thoughts on the Wraith Engine

I've seen the Wraith Engine get some less-than-positive press on the forums.  Then again, this is the internet: it's not hard to find someone saying something.

I painted mine up this month (along with a heap of other stuff) and ended up testing out the following 50pt list:

Wraith Engine
10 Nyss Hunters
6x Boomhowlers
Withershadow Combine
2 Bloat Thralls
Warwitch Siren

The Opposition
Old Witch
-Beast 09
-War Dog
Battle Carriage
10 Winterguard
-Officer & Standard
Kovnik Joe
Widowmaker Marksman & Widowmakers
2 Mortars
Field Gun

End Result
Cryxian victory via assassination; Reaper endures Old Witch's feat, hits her thanks to the Combine's Puppetmaster, then finishes her off with a great big ol' piston to the face.

On the Battle Carriage
It deployed in the middle, moved up, and spent two turns shooting before it got a case of the death.  Honestly, it didn't kill much.  HOWEVER, dropping a heap of templates that are rough terrain is horrifically inconvenient.  Between some terain towards the middle, Boomhowler's did not make it nearly far enough up the table.  Similarly, my arc nodes had to take less direct routes to avoid it.  Cankerworm didn't care, and the Nyss...well, were either dying when caught on the AoE or busy not caring about having to go through it.

On the Wraith Engine
I have a softer spot for Battle Engines with guns.  My main engine so far has been the Arcantrik Force Generator, and all it needs to do in order to contribute is wander up, aim, and then start shooting until something neat happens.

The Wraith Engine is a bit different.  The obvious part is that it can't really shoot.  I think the second part is that, yeah, you're GONNA lose the Wraith Engine.  In the best-case scenario, the Engine is in position to harvest souls, gets a couple of them, then moves up and trashes stuff.  After that?  The enemy has something that's ARM18, Reach, PS15 with Dark Shroud in their lines, and that is bound to be inconvenient.  It's also very corporeal, and in need of death.

So, it's probably a one-way trip for the Engine.  How do you get the most out of it?

Situations that the Engine Digs
Probably the most obvious thing: the Engine loves souls.  You want to get some of those in range prior to your rampage.  This is honestly one of the Engine's strengths: beat-stick that doesn't need focus.  Souls, yes.  Focus?  No, you can pull it off without the focus.  You just need something to kill the soul's fleshy containers in the range of Engine.

The second thing: targets.  With PS15, MAT7, reach and Dark Shroud, you're ideally going for lower-DEF, harder targets.  Anything you can do to up the damage output is great from there.

At that point, you're thinking of the Wraith Engine as a fire-and-forget missile.  Fuel it up, chuck it at the enemy.

The Not So Hot Situation
So, what if you don't have access to a lot of souls?  Maybe you're dealing with a lotta jacks.  Maybe there are a lotta undead across the table, or the other guy has a way of holding onto their souls.

What then?  Time to look at the other offerings of the Engine.

If it's Incorporeal, you aren't blocking LOS but you ARE taking up a lot of space.  It's a screen against melee, but not guns.  If you are corporeal, you get that AND you block LOS.

But wait.  All those other engines offer some kind of army support, and Incorporeal models are a bit rare in this army outside of Machine Wraiths and Blackbane's boys.  Your other buff is Dark Shroud + Reach + Base the Size of a CD.  Can you find some sprays in your army, or some AoEs?  Then you can use the Machine Wraith regardless.  Oh, more fun?  You can fire these THROUGH your Wraith if it's Incorporeal.

So, the Wraith can dig Venom (IE: Deneghra/Sirens with good angles), Bloat Thralls, AoE spells, and so on and so forth.

The Machine In This Round
Turn 1: Scything Touch, then Apparition + Incoporeal + Run = 14" up the board.  Old Witch double-taps him with Gallows, and Kell fires.  End result?  Down 9-10 boxes from hot damage rolls.
Turn 2: Nyss, Bloat Thralls fire off rounds.  Two Souls to the Engine.  it activates, charges the  Gun Carriage (which has been gifted with a Parasite).  Despite some abjectly terrible rolls, three swings later it's a bad memory.  Then again, with I was going at dice +2 for damage. (ARM20, -3 for Parasite, -2 for Dark Shroud, and then PS15+2 for Scything Touch...yeah).  This was also based on rolling up a whopping 7 damage on the charge attack.

Enemy turn 3?  Yeah, it totally died.  He'd had some good damage rolls, and frankly it had drawn a TON of fire (I consider 6 focus' worth of spells good fire).

So, Who Actually Likes This Thing?
Frankly, this Engine is in heavy competition for Souls.  You want models that can do one of several things:

1) Help Deliver This Thing
-eSkarre's feat
-eSkarre's Death Ward
-pSkarre's feat (used defensively)
-Scaverous' Death Ward
-Scaverous' Telekinesis
-eDeneghra's feat (sometimes)
-eGoreshade's Occultation
-Witch Coven's Occultation
-Darragh Wrathe's Beyond Death

2) Anyone with Debuffs
Not gonna lie; I've got no urge to list out who all has debuffs.  MAT7 does mean DEF debuffs are pretty nice, so you can focus on just beating the crap out of your target.

3) Sprays/AoEs
-p/eDenegrha's Venom
-p/eSkarre's Blood Rain
-Defiler's spray
-Nightwretch's AoE
-Harrower's AoE
-Bile Thrall Purges (assuming Incorporeal...)
-Cephalyx Overlords
-Revenant Cannon Crew
-Bloat Thralls
-Warwitch Siren's Venom
-new crabjack's AoE

Things Not To Take
Honestly, some folks just like souls too much to really consider taking alongside.  Short list:

He likes a big feat turn.  The Engine is a major competitor for souls, so unless it's already loaded up...yeah, just don't take him.  The self-sufficiency is a nice thought, but you're better off with something like Deathjack or a Seether.

He likes Soul Harvester, which means he's fighting the Engine for its food source.  Whoops.

epic Asphyxious
He can harvest souls at a distance, and do more damage.  Honestly, you're more likely to want to harvest the souls for focus than for the Engine.

Soul Hunters
They're swift, and similarly-costed.  They also want souls, and love mowing through living infantry at speed.  It's that 'souls' part that makes the Engine a bit sad.

I think the Wraith Engine gets some bad press because it takes a bit more thought to bring out the potential.  The second problem is that the enemy needs to have souls for you to feast on, which is not a given.  Still, I think taking it, and then grabbing for a couple of Bloat Thralls and sprays is a good start for using it.

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