It’s a kind of Magic (Weapon)

Last week I talked a bit about cloud walls and what we as a faction can do about them on the table top. Today, I thought I’d write a bit about my own attitude to the other bug bear that crops up quite a bit – magic weapons. Khador, as a faction, doesn’t tend to have a huge amount of access to magical weapons for our list construction, and I see it cropping up time and time again in discussions of list building. The prevailing notion seems to be that we need to take magic weapon options to play viable lists, which most often manifests itself as taking Aiyana and Holt. Personally, I disagree with this view.

The fact of the matter, is that needing magic weapons (outside of the magic attacks we get as standard on every caster) is a pretty niche requirement. In a lot of cases, it makes matches easier or gives us a particular tool to counter something. I contend though that, in a lot of these cases, it is perfectly possible to play around the issue your faced with. Failing that, there are often some nice solutions you can take without devoting large swathes of your list to them, or just by changing up the list your already playing.

Magic weapons are generally only useful in 2 scenarios, when your opponent has incorporeal models (Wraith Engines, Gremlin Swarms, etc), or when your opponent has tech that can be bypassed by magic weapons (Wind Wall, Choir, Vindictus Feat, etc). Both of these scenarios vary in how severe they are. A few Gremlin Swarms are a pain, whereas 2 Wraith Engines, Black banes and pistol wraiths are even worse. For these reasons it can be useful to have more than the bare minimum of Magic Weapons about, but even in the worst case scenario, you don’t often need a huge amount of them.

Scenario wise, the need for magic weapons applies to 3 different needs:

  • Soft Incorporeal Targets (I.e. Blackbanes, Gremlin Swarms, Void Spirits, etc)
  • Hard Incorporeal Targets, (Wraith Engines, Heavies under Denny 2’s feat, Haley 3 echoes)
  • Spells and effects (Wind Wall, Vindictus feat, etc)

I’m going to stick to incorporeal models today, as mitigating the Spells and effects is much more match up dependent (who cares  if your opponent has Wind Wall if you don’t have any guns). Much like with the article I did on cloud walls, we have a few options on how to deal with situations that we need magic weapons for.  We can build magic weapons into our existing list or we can try to play around the situations that require them. Lets go through each in question.

List building:

Wolves of Winter: This is pretty much our magic weapons theme, being primarily Greylords and Doom Reavers. Basically, if you are building a list in Wolves, chances are you don’t need to worry about Magic Weapons. ‘Nuff said!

Objective: The first choice I wanted to talk about is the one with the least impact on your list. If you are playing a scenario with Objectives, and your opponent has anything requiring Magic Weapons, you should be taking Armoury. It’s only 1 attack per turn, but it can really swing the game. In particular, if you have any ranged weapons (particularly with CRA), it can help massively to keep up a tempo of clearing incorporeal models. Examples of models that work really well with the objective include things like the Winter Guard Mortar (one big shot that can kill multiple models), Bombardiers (CRA to get that one important solo) and Pikemen (high mat, POW and CMA to ensure the hit).

Caster Choice: Khador casters are not generally great spell slingers. We have a couple of outliers (the Zerkovas and the Witches), but in general, all of our casters are focus 6-7, with no stealth or def mitigation and, generally, no access to arc nodes. Equally, unlike with the cloud wall issue, we have only 1 caster that gives access to magic weapons (Karchev through his feat) and that is limited to his battle-groups melee weapons. Despite this, some of our casters are clearly better than others in dealing with the various types of Magic Weapon scenarios that crop up. Any of the Butchers, for example, are going to be better at dealing with Hard Incorporeal targets then most(due to the presence of Ruin and their own melee potential), whereas the likes of the Irusks (airburst is a really good spell) and Zerkovas (Sprays and Arc nodes) are going to be better at dealing with Soft Incorporeal targets, as well as getting around some of the magic requiring effects in the game. Ultimately, none of our spell casters are particularly great at dealing with magic weapon issues, but some are better than others. If you must take something magical, and caster selection is your only option, the likes of the Butchers (Ruin and melee potential), either Zerkova (decent spell slingers with access to arc nodes), the Irusks (air burst again) or Sorschas (very mobile with ways to get away afterwards) are probably your best bets.

Jack Choice: Ruin is the obvious choice here, as mentioned before, but you’re not always going to be playing Butcher. Outside of this, there is really only one option. Jack Marshalling. In general, if you are looking at your jacks for your magic weapons solution, it’s because you are running a jack spam. If that’s the case, you are likely building in Jaws with one of our jack casters, meaning you already have jacks and Forge Seers in your list. This can be a great way to add some magic weapons into your list without spending extra points. Simply slide a jack onto a Forge Seer. This is more painful with the Battle-group focused casters like Harkevich or Karchev, but is still a viable idea. This can also be done in Wolves or in Armoured Korp, though it’s slightly more painful there, due to jacks not being the main thrust of the list. As for marshalling targets, there are a few good options. Behemoth is my favourite, due to him getting a lot out of the marshalling and him threatening any kind of target (He’ll one round anything in the game in melee with 2 focus and a free charge, and his guns threaten everything from Blackbanes to Gremlins to Haley Echoes). Destroyers are another reasonable option, as are Ragers. Pure melee jacks are fine as well, but will lack the kind of threat range you are looking for to deal with problem targets.

Infantry Choices: We don’t have a lot of options in most of our themes for Magic Weapons (outside of Wolves anyway). In faction it boils down to the forge seer most of the time, which is not the best option for a magic attack (it’s not terrible, but he’s slow and Hoarfrost is short range). So for our magical weapon wielding infantry, we end up looking at mercenaries. In most cases, they can generally provide a magic attack as secondary function alongside their primary attack. Ragman falls neatly into this category. There are other options as well, with Kell Bailoch, Harlan Versh and the Eyriss models all being good at dealing with soft incorporeal models. If you want a way to deal with the Hard Incorporeal models, and a way round spell effects as well, we have to talk Aiyana and Holt. Just flat out granting a model/unit magic weapons, as well as the option for harm and a high rat ranged attack is pretty decent and can swing a lot of match ups. My main problem with the Elf and her boytoy are that they are expensive. Usually 12 points (because if your taking the duo, you might as well spring for Valachev to get access to harm), A&H are as expensive as a heavy warjack but die to basically everything (electro leaps, blast damage, etc) and are going to be public enemy number 1 in the match ups they matter in (a Denny 1 ghost fleet list will quite happily swap an arc node for Aiyana). It might be a reasonable price to pay for some lists, but generally I feel like they aren’t worth the point investment, as quite often taking them can be the difference between taking another unit or jack as well as another free model. Taking them in a list should be a decision made if you have literally no other option available, and I don’t think that scenario actually crops up that much.

Tactics:

So we’ve discussed some of the choices you can make with Magic Weapons in your list. Sometimes though, you will be in a position where you have no magic weapons outside your caster, and you have to deal with a Wraith Engine or something. What do you do?

Play around it, that’s what!

The situations where Magic weapons are a tool you need tend to be ones of denial. You can’t attack that model, you auto miss with that ranged attack, etc. There are ways around these things though. Lets talk about them in particular, and then in general.

Wraith engines:

Wraith engines are right bastards to deal with at times. They are incorporeal, fast, hit hard and generate other incorporeal models. They are great for threatening pieces and for holding zones, as well as applying dark shroud at opportune models. The key then to playing around them, is to offer them targets tempting enough to attack, and otherwise ignore them. Remember, other than not being able to land on them, Incorporeal models for all intents and purposes don’t exist on the table, so you can move through and see through them. Jack spam lists in jaws are going to be the most vulnerable to Wraith Engines, but also have tools in theme to deal with them (magic Behemoth anyone), whilst Armoured korp has high value targets, but might have the WE bounce off. Wolves will shred them due to Doom Reavers. LOS and WGK both share having cheap throw away infantry, that aren’t massively hindered by WE due to either being fast enough to move past them are shoot through them.

Incorporeal Heavies:

Denny 2 is the main place I’d expect this. It’s a pretty good trick, with her ideal situation being to alpha with a bunch of her pieces, turn them all incorporeal and then alpha again the next turn. The big trick to playing around this then, is simply to not let her do that. Try to force her to feat defensively and early. If that’s not possible, try to give her a less impressive alpha. If you have a defensive feat, allow your opponent a partial alpha, and then feat to blunt the following turn (Strakhov 2 LOS does this exceptionally well). Obviously, this is easier with a faster list, so the likes of Legion of Steel in general (and Vlad 1 rockets in particular) are going to be better at this than most. Jaws is going to struggle somewhat, but again, Marshalled Behemoth is a great tool here. Armoured Korp is probably the most vulnerable to this as, while it’s not overly slow, it doesn’t put a huge amount of pressure up the board without some caster help.

Black Banes:

Significantly more dangerous than Wraith Engines in a lot of ways, you’ll only ever see these guys in Ghost Fleet. There are a couple of principles to remember here. The unit grows with every kill as long as black bane is alive, so he is enemy number one. Thankfully, he’s not overly difficult to kill, it will just take your casters activation to do so (razor wind is perfect here). If you get him dead, it becomes the same game as for the WE, wait for them to become corporeal and kill them. If you can’t get him dead, things become more difficult, as the Cryx player will kill your models, add raiders and then let the corporeal models die, rendering any work you do moot. If you can’t get to Black Bane himself then, try to have your less vulnerable models hold that side of the table down (in most lists this is going to be your jacks). Whilst you can often ignore big single incorporeal models like Wraith Engines, Black Banes are fast enough and impactfull enough that you simply can’t. Theme specific, WGK and LOS are going to struggle the most as those are the model types that black bane preys upon, and are the least likely to have extra magic attacks (no forge seer). Armoured Korp tends to be tough enough that the Raiders struggle a bit, whilst Jaws only tends to care in so much as they threaten your caster.

Gremlin Swarms:

You’re usually going to see these in the Grymkin match up, though you might see one or 2 with minions lists. These guys are a pain, having stealth as well as Incorporeal. On top of these, they are actually incapable of breaking their incorporeal, unlike most other models. The big danger here is mostly scenario pressure, as if you can’t deal with them, they will run amuk and never allow you to score anything. To this end, coping is mostly a matter of deployment and positioning. Have your caster in a position where they can clear out a flag or zone of Swarms. Objectives can help as well, as you only really need to be capable of killing 1 a turn to keep up with the tempo of the game (Dark Menagerie lists are really slow). Any spare magic attacks help here as well as specific tech (such as Spriggans stripping their stealth), but it is possible to do without, especially with casters that can kill them at range (Zerkova 1, 2, etc) or casters that can kill one in melee and then move after wards (either Strakhov, any of the Sorschas, Butcher 3, etc).  List wise, Jaws is going to be the most vulnerable to them, being slow and affected by them, but has innate ways of killing them (Marshalled Behemoth kills Swarms dead, and Forge Seers are pretty alright at keeping them off your defensive scoring elements). WGK and LOS again are going to struggle with clearing them, making aggressively hunting them with the models that can kill them an important consideration. Armoured Korp is going to struggle a bit as well, but is generally run by casters who are pretty good at killing them (The Irusks have air burst, Zerkova speaks for herself, and the Butchers will be bringing Ruin). Just bear in mind what you have that can kill them and you should be able to keep up a tempo.

Various Solos:

There are a few other Incorporeal solos other than the Gremlin Swarm, but mostly they are dealt  with the same way. They tend to be high defence, low arm. There tends to be varying levels of urgency in dealing with them (the Hellslinger is more of a pain than a Feralgeist) but mostly you try to ignore and mitigate them. Try to position so that your caster can clear them out of contesting positions if need be. Remember, these ones won’t have stealth, so double boosting a nuke at them is an option. Otherwise, what goes for Gremlin Swarms goes here as well.

In General:

In general the key to dealing with Incorporeal models, when you don’t have a ton of magic weapons, is accepting a couple of truths about the match up. You are not going to alpha strike the Incorporeal models. You are going to be fighting an up hill scenario battle. You are going to have to be careful with the prey models in your army (the models the Incorporeal models are going to want to kill. Once you realise these truths, the way you deal with them becomes obvious. Plan for being attacked first, Plan for how your going to stop your opponent winning on scenario, Plan for where your models are going to be positioned. It’s a pain, but if you don’t have the answers to a particular ability (in general, not just Incorporeal) then you have to play around it. Focus on the moves you can make, as there is no list in the game that is 100% incorporeal, which means your models have something to focus on. In general, if you can force an advantage against the rest of the list (such as restricting the shooting the Revenant crew can accomplish into Ghost Fleet for example), then your opponent will have to start committing their incorporeal models. If you can play more aggressively with your caster, and not die, then you can start removing some of these contesting pieces. Focus on the things you can accomplish, and try to minimise the damage that these pieces do.

Conclusion:

My point, if I have one, is not that you should never take pieces with magic attacks. It’s that you can get by without them, through the use of tactics and positioning. Aiyana and Holt are popular in lists at the moment for providing a silver bullet answer to this particular problem, which they do well and in addition to a couple other useful tricks (shooting, harm, etc). They are far from necessary though. 12 points is a hefty chunk of your army composition, and often their contribution could be mimicked by a change in tactics, or a shuffling of your list. Look for these options, because one of the biggest strengths of Khador is that we don’t usually have to worry about support models. Our faction is plenty strong on its own.

For the Motherland!

 

Cheers to Jon ‘A Barry for all Seasons’ Williams for proof reading. Check out his blog at http://tobarry.blogspot.co.uk/ and follow his experience as a Tournament organiser.

 

 

 

 

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Sunny with a chance of Cloud Walls

I was originally going to do a post on my third list for the Welsh Masters, but after doing a 5 week run of taking about match ups, I’m a bit burned out on list talk. Instead, I thought I’d spend some time looking a less specific aspects of the meta and issues that Khador seems to run afoul of a bit more than other factions.

Khador as a faction tends to have less access to specific tools than other factions, being much more straight forward and straight laced in regards to the things that we do. it seems like every other faction gets access to things like True/Eyeless Sight, arc nodes, or Magic Weapons, whereas, we just tend to have to live with what we have. Hell, I even think that this lack of support can be a strength (I wrote an article to that effect awhile ago) because it means that our lists don’t tend to suffer with support bloat. Sure, that Cygnar list was getting Arlan, the Journey man and the Squire for free, but the models we get in the same slots are much more combat effective.

The downside to this is that, in a lot of ways, we are much less flexible in the face of unfair, cheating rules like Incorporeal or Stealth, or opponents who don’t have the good grace to not stand behind a cloud and take an axe to the face (the cowards!). Which is a really obvious segue into the topic at hand. Cloud Walls!

Cloud wall lists are all over the meta lately. Haley 3 is probably the most nefarious, but there are plenty of others. Kolgrimma, Zaadesh, Zerkova, Llaelese Resistance, etc, are all pretty prevalent in the meta. So, like it or not, if you want to do well, you have to know how to deal with a cloud wall list. For a lot of factions, they have easy options to reach for. Hordes has access to the Mist Speaker for Eyeless sight, and tends to have better access to tools like that in general (Extollers in Skorne, Legion in general, etc), whilst the other Warmachine factions have their own answers that we don’t really have access to. Whether it’s Cygnars access to True Sight or Lynus and Edrea, Cryx’s mass of cheap arc nodes (and up coming Dirge Seers for more Eyeless sight), Menoths Rhoven and Co, Retributions Mage Hunter Strike Force, they tend to have easier access to non caster specific answers to clouds than we do. So what do we in mighty Khador do about all these bloody clouds.

In my opinion, we have 3 options. We can go through the clouds, we can go around the clouds, or we can make list building decisions that let us deal with the cloud. We’ll talk about each:

List Building:

This boils down to a couple of different decision point, namely Caster Choice, Jack Choice, and unit/solo choice.

Caster choice: So we have 2 casters in faction that have tech for dealing with clouds. I speak of course of Vlad 2 and Irusk 2. These casters are great in their own right, running great lists and having anti cloud wall tech as a niche ability, rather than it being a huge part of their package. Going this route for anti cloud wall tech is pretty nuclear though. Caster choice is a pretty important part of list construction, so the only reason to pick these casters specifically for this tech is if Cloud Walls are a real problem in your meta. Don’t pick these casters because of the tech, it’s simply a nice arrow in the quiver for the list, meaning you can ignore this issue during list construction (in much the same way that, because Irusk’s feat grants pathfinder, you probably don’t need terrain mitigation tech like Saxon Orric)

Jack choice: So with the CID update finally dropping, the Spriggan finally feels like a reasonable tech piece to take into cloud walls. Being cheaper, and gaining dual attack means that taking this jack as a utility choice is much more attractive. The Juggernaut and Marauder going up makes the Spriggan much more palatable, bringing a bunch of abilities and little upgrades over the Juggernaut chassis, such as steady, Bulldoze, reach, etc. The big one is the targeting flares. Having Dual Attack now, the Spriggan can place these AOEs almost incidentally, allowing it to charge or trample, complete it’s melee activation and the place the flares for the rest of the army. The way these AOEs work means that the Spriggan can even hang back out of threat range and light models up, as the centre of the AOE has to be within line of sight. This means that if a model is within an inch and a half of the back of a cloud, the Spriggan can tag them with the flare. Dual attack also makes it difficult to lock the spriggan down, as engagement doesn’t hinder it and allows you options such as trampling into the cloud wall and flaring things beyond it. Torch has many of the same options, with the obvious down sides being that he is a character jack and that he has assault instead of dual attack. Both of these jacks are in interesting places. Spamming the Spriggan is not a great idea, but having him as 1 of your 2 jacks in an infantry list, or upgrading a jack to a Spriggan are options we have that are somewhat attractive now. This won’t be the best option for every list. Some will want to take a colossal as their only jack (such as Irusk 1 or Vlad 2), others will not particularly care about the cloud wall and will focus on cheaper jacks to spam (such as the Vlad 1 Rocket list, or Karchev in general). It is nice to finally have the Spriggan be a reasonable option though.

Unit/solo Choice: We have a few models in faction that have ways of dealing with cloud walls. Assault Kommandos, for example, ignore them for line of sight, meaning that a small unit of Assault Kommandos can deal with infantry hiding behind clouds. The problem with AKs, however, is that they are a very specific piece. They are only available in WGK and only really deal with single wound infantry. This might make them a decent choice into the likes of Grave Diggers to gun down trenchers, but is not great into some of the other cloud walls, like Zaadesh or King of Nothing. Worse still, they prey on a model type that WGK already excels into and don’t contribute to free models. Still, a minimum unit might be something to bear in mind when constructing a WGK list, if cloud walls are a major problem for you.

The other unit that is reasonably adept against cloud walls are ambushing Kossites. These are only available in Jaws, but are somewhat more interesting because of that. Jaws being our Jack theme, Kossites having a preferred target of infantry is much less of a downside, at least when compared to AKs, and having them for scenario presence gives an extra reason to bother with them. Finally, they are also cheap. This means you can stick a unit in without drawing too many points away from the main thrust of your list. The big downside is mainly their accuracy and how easily they are dealt with. They are Rat 4, and are going to struggle to hit anything, even with the likely back arc bonus they’ll receive. In addition, they fail the good ambush model test, in that they simply aren’t that disruptive. They might kill some support models, but are going to struggle to divert any resources towards them.

Going through the clouds:

If you decide that your list needs to stay the way it is, and don’t want to play one of the anti cloud wall casters, then you have to start considering how you are going to deal with the cloud wall. The most obvious solution is to act like it isn’t there. This isn’t a solution for every list. If you are playing a gunline, or are relying on charging, then you are in fact somewhat hosed by this choice. However, there are lists that are less impacted by not being able to see their targets. These broadly fall into 2 categories: Bricks and Speedsters.

Bricks:

Bricks are lists that were already relying on being tough as nails. These kinds of lists were just going to tromp forward anyway, and probably don’t actually care that much about getting to charge or shoot. Armoured Korp anvil lists are a great example of these. Shocktroopers generally want to shield wall anyway and can sometimes walk into the cloud and shoot out the other side. The other example is going to be the harkevich/Karchev jack brick lists, that are spamming a bunch of jacks. These lists were probably out threatened anyway, and can use tactics such as Harkevich running his entire line into the clouds and feating, or trampling through the clouds and buying attacks (or venting if you’re a Kodiak). These are all viable tactics, as in most cases, these lists weren’t going to out threat their opponents anyway. Because of this, the cloud wall actually doesn’t generate a huge amount of value (though there is still some), as it doesn’t affect the game plan you had much in the first place. The Irusk 1 Shocktrooper brick I was talking about during CID is a great example of this, using it’s own denial tactics and defensive capabilities to simply keep walking forward until it met the enemy lines. It loses some shooting elements to the cloud wall, but not much else.

Speedsters:

Some lists are naturally fast, and don’t lose much in the way of threat from being unable to charge. This includes things like Doom Reavers, Outriders, Kayazy Eliminators, etc. In general, a lot of these models can threaten 8+ inches without being able to charge, which can push back an opponents line (because why are they bothering with a cloud wall if they don’t care if their lines engaged) to the point where the whole exercise becomes kind of pointless. Outriders in particular don’t care much about cloud walls. Much of the time they can simply spray each other if they don’t want to walk into it. For the rest, having long walking threat can be a great way to negate the advantages a cloud wall gives your opponent, especially if the models in question have a ranged attack they can fire out the other side of the cloud wall. Casters such as Strakhov 2 with Quicken can leverage this to push the threat ranges up even more. If you can use these models to force your opponent to push back their cloud wall line, even by a couple of inches, you can leverage that to gain an advantage on the tempo of the game. The other advantage here is early game. If you can be on the middle line of the table top of 1, your opponent has to make decisions about how far to bring their models, even with the cloud wall. Remember, a lot of cloud wall lists are very slow (though there are exceptions) and use the LOS blocking to deliver their harder hitting models that lack threat range. If you push back their cloud wall, you push back the threat range they can project. A great example of a list like this is the Sorscha 1 list I was playing a while ago. Double Outriders and double Doom Reavers meant that list was past the mid line turn 1, giving my opponents much less board space to construct their cloud wall, and usually denying them access to convenient terrain features they could use to boost the size of their cloud walls .

Going around the Cloud Wall:

The final tactic I wanted to talk about is simply to go around the cloud wall. This differs from going through in a couple of ways. The first is that you are acknowledging that LOS is important to your list, whether that’s due needing charges or ranged attacks or whatever. The second is that you are playing an army that is reasonably mobile and doesn’t care if it bricks up. Finally, you will probably be combining this tactic with one of the others, because otherwise, you are going to be engaging piecemeal, never a great idea. The lists that excel at this tactic tend to be the ones that have models that are innately good at flanking due to being either fast or cheap enough to send a whole unit off on to one flank, whether that’s Uhlans or Eliminators, Pikemen or Winterguard. Models like our Warjacks, or MOW tend to be bad at this tactic, due to being innately slow and immobile.

The goal here is to spread out and surround the cloud wall list. Most cloud walls are going to be fairly bricked up, if only because most cloud walls are limited in the number or location of where they can put the clouds (most cloud wall lists have 3-4 aoe 3 clouds, with the exceptions being the likes of H3, or Reclaimer when he gets a bunch of souls). Due to this, it can be a good tactic to surround the list and force your opponent to decide what the cloud wall will defend from. A good example of this is my current Witch list. While it has cloud wall mitigation in the Spriggan, it also has Eliminators, who tend to flank pretty hard anyway. They tend to be unaffected by the cloud wall, as they are usually to the side or behind it already, and are ready to charge in and disrupt the enemy lines. The Strakhov list I play is a more extreme example of this, as that list’s game plan tends to revolve around spreading out to cover much of the board, before charging and bricking up for a turn (though the brick can be a line of pikes 24 inches long in some matches).

So those are my thoughts on Cloud Walls in general. I didn’t really want to get into match up specifics, due to those being very different in some cases. Kolgrimma’s cloud wall is different from Haleys cloud wall, is different from Sorscha 3s cloud wall. Instead, I wanted to go into some general tactics and decisions you can make to lessen the impact of cloud walls, and so that we can think about how to mitigate these problems with our own cloud wall lists (Zerkova 1, Harkevich, Malakov 2, etc). Cloud walls are all the rage at the moment, and whilst we may not have some of the tools other factions have access to, we do have our own tools and we can play around them.

For the Motherland!

Cheers to Jon ‘What does the Barry say?’ Williams for proof reading services. Check out his blog at http://tobarry.blogspot.co.uk/ for his continuing journey as a TO.

 

Recap: Building a Khador Pairing

Just a short one this time guys. After spending the last 5 weeks putting together my ‘Building a Khador Pairing’ series, I wanted to do a quick summary of my pairing along with the match ups for each faction. Each faction will have each potential match up along with the preferred drop. I’ll post a link to each page after the appropriate section. Onwards!

Khador Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] Legion of Steel

(Strakhov 2) Assault Kommander Strakhov [+22]
– Rager [10]
– Torch [18]
Iron Fang Kovnik [0(4)]
Kaptain Sofya Skirova [0(5)]
Uhlan Kovnik Markov [7]
Great Bears of the Gallowswood [9]
Iron Fang Pikemen (max) [15]
– Iron Fang Pikemen Officer & Standard [0(4)]
Iron Fang Pikemen (max) [15]
– Iron Fang Pikemen Officer & Standard [4]
Iron Fang Pikemen (max) [15]
– Iron Fang Pikemen Officer & Standard [4]

Khador Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] Jaws of the Wolf

(Old Witch 2) Zevanna Agha, The Fate Keeper [+27]
– Juggernaut [13]
– Kodiak [13]
– Marauder [11]
– Spriggan [17]
Greylord Forge Seer [0(4)]
– Behemoth [25]
Greylord Forge Seer [0(4)]
– Rager [10]
Widowmaker Marksman [0(4)]
Battle Mechaniks (min) [3]
Kayazy Eliminators [5]
Kayazy Eliminators [5]

Warmachine:

Cygnar:

  • Haley 3: Witch 2
  • Nemo 3: Witch 2
  • Overall: Witch 2

https://avatarofslaughter.wordpress.com/2018/04/06/khador-pairings-in-the-current-meta/

Protectorate of Menoth:

  • Amon: Strakhov 2
  • Harbinger: Witch 2
  • Vindictus: Strakhov 2
  • Overall: Strakhov unless the pairing includes Harbinger, then Witch

Khador:

  • WGK gunline (Vlad 1, Witch 2, etc): Witch 2
  • Legion of Steel (Strak 2, Zerkova 1, etc): Strakhov 2
  • Jack brick in either Jaws or WGK (Butcher 3, Witch 2, Harkevich, etc): Strakhov 2
  • Armoured Korp (Zerkova 1, Irusk 1, Butcher 1, etc): Witch 2
  • Overall: Pairing dependent, if one list is a WGK gunline then Witch 2, if not, Strakhov 2

Cryx:

  • Ghost Fleet (Denny 1, Terminus): Witch 2
  • Dark Host (Skarre 1, Coven, Denny 2, etc): Depends on list build. 1 Wraith Engine: Strakhov 2, 2 Wraith Engines: Witch 2
  • Scourge of the Broken Coast (Denny 1, Coven, Lich 1, etc): Strakhov 2
  • Black Industries (Denny 2, Lich 3, etc): Strakhov 2
  • Overall: Pairing dependent, Strakhov 2 doesn’t want Ghost Fleet; Witch doesn’t want Scourge, drop appropriately.

https://avatarofslaughter.wordpress.com/2018/04/13/building-a-khador-pairing-the-old-guard/

Retribution of Scyrah:

  • Vyros 2: Strakhov 2
  • Defenders of Ios (Issyria, Elara): Strakhov 2
  • Shadows of the Retribution (Issyria, Elara): Strakhov 2
  • Overall: Strakhov 2

Convergence of Cyris (insert COC joke here):

  • Destruction Initiative combined arms (Lucant, Axis): Strakhov 2
  • Destruction Initiative gunline (Orion, Iron Mother Directrix): Strakhov 2
  • Overall: Strakhov 2

Mercenaries:

  • Magnus 2: Strakhov 2
  • Ossrum: Witch 2
  • Thexus: Witch 2
  • General Infantry/ Battlegroup lists (Damiano, Ashylynn, etc): Strakhov 2
  • General gunline list (Caine 3, Ossrum, etc): Witch 2
  • Overall: Pairing dependent

https://avatarofslaughter.wordpress.com/2018/04/21/building-a-khador-pairing-the-new-world/

Hordes:

Trollbloods:

  • Madrak 1: Witch 2
  • Kolgrimma: Witch 2
  • Beast Brick (Doomie 2, Grim 1, etc): Strakhov 2
  • Overall: Witch 2

Circle Oroborous:

  • Kruger 2: Strakhov 2
  • Bradigus: Strakhov 2
  • Una 2: Strakhov 2
  • Overall: Strakhov 2

Legion of Everblight:

  • Swagrosh 1: Witch 2
  • Kallus 2: Witch 2
  • Oracles of Annihilation (Twins, Rhyas, Vayl, etc): Witch 2
  • Overall: Witch 2

https://avatarofslaughter.wordpress.com/2018/04/27/building-a-khador-pairing-into-the-wild/

Skorne:

  • Rasheth: Witch 2
  • Meowkada 2: Strakhov 2
  • Zaadesh 2: Witch 2
  • Angry Rhino Man: Witch 2 against Drakes, Strakhov 2 vs other lists
  • Overall: Witch 2, but be aware of list composition

Minions:

  • Rask: Strakhov 2 (Witch 2 under no cirmumstances! Danger Will Robinson: My arms are flailing!)
  • Other Minions list: Strakhov 2, in case they drop Rask instead (yes, it’s that bad)
  • Overall: Strakhov 2

Grymkin:

  • Dark menagerie (Dreamer, Heretic, etc): Strakhov 2
  • Overall: Strakhov 2 (note: read what the arcana do, and how they are triggered!)

https://avatarofslaughter.wordpress.com/2018/05/04/building-a-khador-pairing-beasts-from-the-east-and-other-places/

 

Just wanted to throw together a quick summary for easy reference. There will be a regular article as well as this one, posted Friday or Saturday. Good hunting!

For the Motherland!

 

Building a Khador Pairing: Beasts from the East (and other places)

So we’ve had the CID update drop since last time. All pretty much as predicted, so if you want my opinion, the last post I did on the CID is pretty much still relevant. I’ll talk a bit more about my plans for Armoured Korp next week. Last week I covered half of the Hordes Factions and what we should drop from our Witch 2/ Strakhov 2 pairing into each, as well as likely lists we might actually see. This week I’ll be finishing off this series of articles by discussing Skorne, Minions and Grymkin. I’ll do a quick re cap of the various factions and what to drop at the end as well. As with the previous articles, we begin with a reminder of what lists we’re talking about on our end:

Khador Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] Legion of Steel

(Strakhov 2) Assault Kommander Strakhov [+22]
– Rager [10]
– Torch [18]
Iron Fang Kovnik [0(4)]
Kaptain Sofya Skirova [0(5)]
Uhlan Kovnik Markov [7]
Great Bears of the Gallowswood [9]
Iron Fang Pikemen (max) [15]
– Iron Fang Pikemen Officer & Standard [0(4)]
Iron Fang Pikemen (max) [15]
– Iron Fang Pikemen Officer & Standard [4]
Iron Fang Pikemen (max) [15]
– Iron Fang Pikemen Officer & Standard [4]

Khador Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] Jaws of the Wolf

(Old Witch 2) Zevanna Agha, The Fate Keeper [+27]
– Juggernaut [13]
– Kodiak [13]
– Marauder [11]
– Spriggan [17]
Greylord Forge Seer [0(4)]
– Behemoth [25]
Greylord Forge Seer [0(4)]
– Rager [10]
Widowmaker Marksman [0(4)]
Battle Mechaniks (min) [3]
Kayazy Eliminators [5]
Kayazy Eliminators [5]

Skorne:

The invaders from the East have really come into their own recently. The latest round of themes, coupled with the changes to the Animantrix have taken a little while to take hold, but are finally finding their way to the table. Winds of death has an incredibly strong list in the usual Rasheth Double Turtle list (fat bastard that he is), Masters of War has Meowkada and Xerxis, whilst Warhost has Zaadesh and Xerxis 2. All strong lists, all presenting their own particular brand of difficulty. Skorne hits hard, hits surprisingly fast and (at least recently), hits well at range as well. Lets dive in with Tubby.

Raseth Winds of Death:

The Fat Git is an incredibly strong caster, boasting a strong spell list and a ball busting feat. His list will usually be pretty set: Double Siege Animantrix, Reivers, min slingers for arc nodes, etc. It’s going to look to gun you down from across the table to the point that the Turtles can commit without dying, and then it’s all over bar the crying. It’s a great list in a number of ways (it hits hard at range and in melee, is fast, has great threat ranges, a lot of tools) and you should be wary of it.

Thankfully, the pairing we’re running has a great answer to it. Witch 2 is a brilliant answer here for a number of reasons. The main one is, of course, Wind Storm. Being able to deny this list a turn of shooting is key, and it also has another more subtle effect. One of the interesting things about Wind Storm, is that it reduces most guns to under 10 inches of range. For those of you keeping score at home, the threat range of a Khador Jack in Witch’s list is 10 inches. In this case, it brings Turtles down to range 7 on their guns, meaning that even if they Reposition straight back, they are still within charge range of the Jack they just shot. Because of this, as well as the blind gun, Behemoth and Curse of Shadows, Witch gives her jacks the ability to not only catch a Turtle, but to kill one through Tubbies feat as well. Simply put, if you position well, the Turtles should not be able to get work done without dying horribly to your jacks. The rest of the list should then fold (assuming you’ve not lost too much), as the Animantrix are the centre pieces of the list. On top of this, Witch is much less vulnerable than some casters to being randomly murdered, and has very little need to do anything in the match up besides cast Wind Storm until after the Turtles commit.  Strakhov does no where near as well here. Feat really hurts the pikes, taking them to POW 11, and there is nothing to stop the Turtles from hanging back and peppering your lines. On top of this, Breath of Corruption is a right bastard to have to play into. The match up is by no means completely awful, it can be done, but it is advantaged to the Rasheth player.

Meowkada:

Kitties galore! Makeda 2 with double cats is one of those boogeymen lists in the meta, having torn up the scene for a while now. It was popular before the theme drop, and only got stronger from there. Again, the list is fairly set, with Makeda taking double Ferox, Rhadeim, double Willbreaker, double Tyrant Commander and then likely Molik karn and some other stuff. This list is ridiculously fast, with the cats threatening 17 inches without dash, though the important attacks are ‘only’ 15.5inch threat. This list is going to get into your face fairly quickly and then just never die. Between tough, steady, dodge, a reasonable def stat and stay death, the cats can be really difficult to mill through, generally requiring a wealth of high accuracy attacks that can reliably force tough checks. Grevious wounds is a silver bullet for this match up, but is something that we do not traditionally have access to, so we are forced to do things the hard way.

Drop wise, Strakhov is the better choice, having a large quantity of high quality, fast infantry. On average dice, a charging pikeman will kill a Ferox, so having access to 30 or so of them is a daunting prospect for the Makeda player, counter charges and solos not withstanding. The cats will get the alpha (and don’t trigger counter charges with the pounce), but feating at the right time can blunt this as the cats don’t hit overly hard outside of CMA’s. Strakhov 2 Pikes should be fairly heavily advantaged in this match up, with the caveat being that you must be careful to keep Strakhov himself safe. This is not massively hard to do, as all he has to contribute in the match up are his upkeeps, and has no real need to step off the edge of the kill box.

Witch, on the other hand, is still very playable. She doesn’t get anywhere near the threat ranges the cats have, however, she has a couple of advantages over them. First, is that she is actually fairly difficult to assassinate. Keeping your jacks close to her to deny landing spots, as well as camping a bunch and she should resist most assassination runs. Molik Karn is a concern, but his threat ranges are much more limited compared to the cats. Second, is her own abilities. The blind gun does a lot of work in this match up, as the cats tend to be bunched somewhat to get the most out of Makedas stay death. Curse of Shadows is also important here, as it stops the cats simply locking your limited model count army out of scenario elements, and allows your jacks to get into the back arcs of the cats. Third is her ability to hand out a butt ton of focus. On feat turn, she can really maximise the amount of attacks that her battle group can put out, whilst also improving accuracy through re-rolls and the blind cloud. All of these things, considered together with the general elements of the list (Behemoth, Eliminators, etc) means that a match up that looks bad at first glance (a limited battlegroup list into hardy, hard hitting, fast cavalry is generally bad) is actually pretty playable. At some point, the cats will commit to attacking something and at that point, Witch can generally put out enough lethal attacks to get through tough and stay death, and blind a bunch of the rest. Be careful not to lose on scenario, camp aggressively, and try to put damage on multiple Ferox early, and Witch should be able to pull out a victory. One last note: watch out for Molik Karn. He gets Side Step from Makeda, so just be careful that he doesn’t get onto Witch.

Zaadesh 2:

Zaadesh has been played in a couple of different lists recently, but the one that seems to have risen to the fore is in Imperial Warhost. The core of the list will be 2 Turtles, combined with a Titan herd as his battle group. The list is going to roll up the centre of the board, behind a cloud wall and anchored on either side by Turtles. He’ll then commit once he can charge with Feat, and you’ll spend a frustrating turn trying to deal with Turtles with Defensive Strike and arm 23+ heavies, some of which will have retaliatory strike as well. On top of this, the combination of clouds and sac pawn make Zaadesh a tough warlock to assassinate, even on 0 camp. Drop wise,  I think Witch is still the right choice here. Having cloud wall tech in her list helps a lot, as does being able to deny shooting from the Turtles. Another point in her favour, is that Imperial Warhost does not allow Extoller Soul Wards, meaning that the blind gun can actually do some work against Turtles here, though watch out for shield guards and Mist Speakers. Once the lines meet, this devolves into a good old fashion Battle group vs Battle group scrap, which Witch generally excels at. A point to remember here, is that the Turtles knockdown, so be careful about what and when you commit to melee. Try to position so that the Spriggan goes in on one side, whilst the other side is managed by blind and positioning. Strakhov is pretty good here as well, also having cloud wall tech. In addition, whilst turtles are pretty good at killing Pikes, this is not Rasheth, and so you won’t have to deal with all the additional guns and spells flying at your lines. Be careful with what you commit on the feat turn, and Strak should do fine.

Xerxis 2:

The man, the myth, the dude on a rhino. Xerxis is going to be pretty simple list wise. He’s going to take 2 turtles, load up on beasts and run at you. The current hotness seems to be a whole bunch of Basilisk Drakes, for that hot spray 8 action. It is pretty terrifying to be honest, and can assassinate at the drop of a hat. The Drakes being able to walk 8 and spray 8, with S&P on pow 14s is impressive. Overall, the list is going to be very fast, quite accurate and threaten assassination pretty much constantly. Due to these considerations, Witch is likely the optimal drop. Whilst the pikes will probably survive for a turn due to feat, the threat of assassination, and the ability for the surviving drakes to clean up a lot of Pikes makes Strakhov a much harder game. Witch be comparison is running a bunch of jacks and has counter shooting, whilst also being a much harder prospect to murder. Xerxis has to get a lot more Drakes onto her to actually kill her through a decent camp than onto Strakhov. In addition, the nature of the list is more resilient to the sprays, with Jacks being much less likely to go down or be crippled by POW 14 sprays, and being able to attack anything that just sprayed them. Overall, Witch is probably the right drop here.

All together, Skorne is pretty broad right now. The faction has a lot of different lists and casters that are strong. A lot of these lists revolve around centre piece models that, if dealt with, cause the list to fall apart. Overall, Witch is generally going to be the right choice, with Blind, Windstorm and her various spells being a good counter to a lot of Skorne’s usual tech. Strakhov is by no means a bad drop in most situations, but he struggles somewhat with the more common drops in Skorne that are put into Khador, like Raseth Winds of Death.

Minions:

Also known as the Rask faction, Minions has 1 ridiculously strong list at the moment, as well as a couple of reasonably strong lists to pair with it. With the fairly recent CID changes, as well as the new models actually being out, Minions is going from strength to strength lately. Maelok has made a reappearance, running a butt load of Posse. So has Barnabus 1 and 2, generally running battle groups. The lesser warlocks are also pretty popular, and it’s not hard to see why. They bring a variety of impactful abilities, and can benefit greatly from being friendly faction to receive buffs. Lets start with the Bog Trog bastard himself.

Rask:

Rask has probably one of the best set of abilities in the game. He combines a fantastic spell list, decent gun that has options to deal with things on the table, defensive abilities and one of the strongest feats in the game. His main issue has traditionally been that Minions stuff was kind of sub-par, but that’s not really the case anymore. Whilst you might see him in Blindwater with Posse, the fact of the matter is that the most likely way to see him built is running a zoo in WWFF. He will likely have, at minimum, Rorsch and Brine (Ninja Pig!), Dahlia and Skarath, Wrong Eye and Snap Jaw and at least 1 black hide wrestler for Rage. From there, the main differences start cropping up in what the rest of his beast package will be, whether he takes a Battle Boar on Rorsch, what Solos he brings, etc. The most common I’ve seen so far is Orin, Kwaak and Gub, along with double Mist Speakers. However, you could see basically anything as Minions solo choice is fairly broad. The list is stupidly fast, has access to a 6 point damage swing, and has a lot of heavies that have overtake. It’s a great all comer list with a lot of tools and access to a bunch of different ways to kill your stuff, including guns, sprays, spells and heavies threatening very far. Speaking of which, lets talk about Brine. Brine threatens 16 inches at potentially POW 20-21. That’s pretty nuts. On top of this, the rest of the list is no slouch with threat ranges, with Snap Jaw and Skarath threatening pretty far as well and Rasks personal battle group threatening a respectable 10-13 inches, depending on the beast. Combined with overtake and veil of mists, it is hard to stop a beast getting where it needs to go. On top of this threat range with ridiculously hard hitting beasts, there are control and defensive elements here as well. Between Enliven, Counterblast and Admonition, it is very difficult to tie anything down. The list can have access to spell denial from Orin, and can screw over infantry with Dahlia. There are probably more shenanigans that I’m forgetting honestly, but we move onto what to drop.

I’m going to say this up front. This is probably the worst list in the game to drop this Witch list into. I’ve played it multiple times against a couple of varied builds and it’s pretty much an auto loss. Rask has too many beasts that threaten too far, with too many denial elements, and Witch struggles to be active in the match without simply getting murdered by ninja pig. Do not drop Witch 2 jaws into Rask. Strakhov, on the other hand, is a much better match. The Rask player still has a lot of trickery up their sleeves, and the initial dice roll is pretty important here (getting first turn is huge for either side in this match up). However, despite the multiple ways this list has to screw over infantry (Dahlia, 10 inch corrosion sprays, Orins chain lightning, Rask shooting your up keeps off, venoms from Kwaak, etc) it’s still a pretty good match up due to a couple of factors. The first is simply that the Pikes are fast. 13 inches means that the only thing that out threats you is Ninja Pig, and these beasts are not tough if you can actually hit them (the lesser’s beasts in particular fold trivially to pikes that get on them). In addition, the speed of the list lowers the amount of use Rask gets out of his feat. He has to keep beasts around 10 inches away from your front line or the pikes will simply advance under Quicken. The second advantage, and it’s a big one, is counter charge. 2 Charging great bears will cripple most of the Beasts here, and if you are under feat, they will struggle to kill you in return. This is absolutely vital, as it lessens the danger from random assassinations and from the likes of Ninja Pig and the Snake simply overtaking through you lines. The final advantage you have in this match up, is simply that Strakhov is difficult to assassinate. He is immune to most of the big shooting in the list, and between stealth and Repo, can be further forward in this match up than most casters. Just try not to get him eaten by a snake, try to use positioning to minimise damage from corrosion attacks, and there is a game to play here.

In light of Rask, it’s hard to think that we see anything but that list. It’s strong in ways that we are weak as a faction (in that it has a lot of corrosion, cracks armour well, has movement shenanigans, etc), and we generally don’t have lists that take advantage of it’s weaknesses (i.e. we don’t have a lot of anti stealth or cloud shooting and we don’t tend to out threat 13 inch beasts). I think with this specific paring, if playing into Minions, you will see Rask 90% of the time. Honourable mentions of other lists include Maelok, who runs a brick of Gators (pikes should do well here) and Barny 2, who seems to be running similar lists to Rask, but is probably strictly worse (you can probably play Witch into him, but Strak is still better). Calaban is probably the caster the Pikes want to see the least, between Parasite and Feat, but play can get you through there. Overall into Minions, Pikes seems like not just the best drop, but probably the only viable drop from this pairing.

Grymkin:

The new kids on the block. Grymkin are a pain in the ass to deal with, requiring a lot of planning before every move. Screw up your positioning on the key turn and they’ll take a unit off you. Being a limited faction, there is not a huge amount of variety on show here, and most of the time the pairing we’ve selected is going to get Dark Menagerie (probably run by Dreamer or Heretic, although KON is a possibility as well). The thing to remember about Grymkin, from my experience, is that nothing is quite what it seems. Those lights are squishier than they look, those heavies are tougher and hit harder than they seem. Lets dive into the main course of Dark Menagerie.

Dark Menagerie:

This theme is the bread and butter of most Grymkin players pairing, and it’s gonna look pretty similar in most cases. 4-5 heavies, a Death Knell, some lights and a bunch of Gremlin Swarms. The most usual casters are going to be heretic and Dreamer, and they share a couple of similarities. They both have control/denial spells, offensive threat range extenders and passive abilities that are a right bastard to deal with. Heretic is going to be the more offensive focused of the 2, between his Trump arcana and Fury. The Dreamer is going to be more of a technical play maker, being able to move your models around with Abyssal Gate and Bulldoze, replace destroyed models with Phantasms and bring a pretty ridiculous battle-group buff in manifest destiny. Most variations of Dark Menagerie are going to be a brick, with the various models clustered somewhat around the Death Knell for armour and criss crossing their various Arcane Vortexes and Shield Guards. While not having much of a threat range, they will still be able to take models off of you with Gallows/Abyssal gate, and will take a punch like a champ, using Arcana and high armour to blunt any alpha you bring. On top of all this, the Gremlin Swarms will be rat bastards to deal with. Witch deals with them more easily, whilst Strakhov must rely on Objectives and himself to do so (Top tip regarding Gremlin Swarms: Try to make sure you are getting at least 1 a turn. That way you are removing a good deal of contesting models early on). Annoyingly, I think the correct drop here is usually going to be Strakhov. Why annoying? Because the Pikes bring no spell mitigation or magic weapons, both of which are annoyances the list will have to deal with. At some point into either heretic or Dreamer, a unit is going to get Rebuked/Enfeebled, and that unit will be much less useful for the rest of the game. Last Stand can be used to get some work out of them, but it’s much less interesting than having 3 fully functional units. In addition to this, Strakhov himself is the only model that can actually kill Gremlin Swarms in this list, though he has some advantage over most list, in that his nuke is fairly cheap, has good mat, and has Torch in the list to strip stealth off of the swarms.

Despite these disadvantages, the Strakhov list is still the correct choice. His list is fast, hits very hard, and counter charge is a great way to defend your lines against the opposing heavies. With his force, it is fairly easy to set up in a zone, and kill anything that comes into it. Be aware of what your opponent has available (be particularly aware of Rattlers, they will kill a lot of Pikes if you are not careful) and keep the Pikes as safe as possible in early turns. Regarding an actual game plan, against Heretic, you probably want to go first. Getting as far up the table as possible, whilst staying out of Rebuke range and spreading out to mitigate Wall of Fire, will allow you to dictate where the line of engagement happens and giving you control of scenario elements. Dreamer is slightly more difficult. Whilst she has less hard control against infantry, she has much more in the way of shenanigans. Her phantasms, in particular, make it basically impossible to win a scenario victory against her if she goes second. It’s a bit counter intuitive, but if possible you should go second against dreamer, again staying out of the enfeeble range, and then trying to get an alpha onto her beasts. If you lose the roll and go first, then push attrition hard, as she will win on scenario almost every time in the hands Against both, prioritise killing lights and gremlin swarms first. If you can reduce the threats to the heavies of the battle group before losing too many Pikes, the match up becomes much easier.

A quick word about Arcana: If you are dropping Pikes, the most likely Arcana to see are going to be Ill Omens, Sacrifice and Pandemonium. Be aware of what the triggers for these Arcana are, and what you can do to mitigate them. Ill omens triggers off of Warrior model being destroyed, so Gremlin swarms are going to be the only triggers in a lot of lists. It is usually worth backing off if you can against a triggered Ill Omens, so try to plan to destroy any Gremlin Swarms early in the turn. Sacrifice is a right bastard to play against, and there isn’t a huge amount you can do about it. Strakhov can grevious wounds something himself if it makes sense, but be very cautious about doing this. Otherwise, just try to take models one at a time. Finally, Pandemonium is actually reasonably easy to play around for Pikes. Keep your CA’s outside of the dreamers control and you should be fine, as it’s an Arcana that loses value the later in the game it happens. One final note on arcana: if your opponent has triggered an arcana, they can’t trigger another one. So once an arcana goes down in a turn, you can ignore the consequences of the other ones with impunity.

Overall, Grymkin are a difficult match up. Between Arcana and difficult to kill heavies, it can be difficult to actually project threat and take pieces from the Grymkin player without losing more in return. More than any other faction in the game, Grymkin will punish you for mistakes, so pay attention to positioning and plan accordingly. The match up is difficult, but playable.

 

Final Word:

These last few weeks have seen me look at match ups for the Witch/Strak 2 pairing into basically the whole game (though I’ve had to restrict it somewhat to match ups I think this pair see). If we look back at every article, we see that I’m of the opinion that this pairing has game into just about anything. Obviously, some match ups are worse than others, but it feels like this pairing never really gets below a 50 – 50 chance at a match up. I don’t think this is the only pairing in faction that can achieve this either. Khador is in a great position at the moment, with a lot of options and list possibilities. I’m hoping to prove that this year, between Welsh, L&L and the WTC, but there is no reason the rest of you can’t. So get out there and smash those tournaments!

For the Motherland!

Thanks to Jon ‘Set Barry to kill’ Williams for proof reading. Check out his new blog ‘What Does The Card Say?’ at http://tobarry.blogspot.co.uk/

Building A Khador Pairing: Into the Wild

Last week I mopped up the last of the Warmachine factions, this week we’re starting Hordes. We’ll look at 3 factions: Trollbloods; Circle Orborous and Legion of Everblight. Hordes factions have a couple of important differences in how you play into them, with the most important being the fury mechanic. Unlike Jack casters, Beast warlocks can get the maximum amount of work out of their beasts in a turn, meaning that if your relying on your opponent not having the resources to deal with you, be very sure it’s because they don’t have enough in range. The other thing is the transfer mechanic. Unlike with Casters, if you’ve got 2 shots, and the opponent has 2 transfers, you aren’t killing them. So factor these things into your planning. There are other things to remember, like frenzying, how forcing works, etc, but I’ll get into them if they become important. As before, here are the lists we’re dojoing here as a reminder:

Khador Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] Legion of Steel

!!! Your army contains a CID entry.

(Strakhov 2) Assault Kommander Strakhov [+22]
– Rager [10]
– Torch [18]
Iron Fang Kovnik [0(4)]
Kaptain Sofya Skirova [0(5)]
Uhlan Kovnik Markov [7]
Great Bears of the Gallowswood [9]
Iron Fang Pikemen (max) [15]
– Iron Fang Pikemen Officer & Standard [0(4)]
Iron Fang Pikemen (max) [15]
– Iron Fang Pikemen Officer & Standard [4]
Iron Fang Pikemen (max) [15]
– Iron Fang Pikemen Officer & Standard [4]

Khador Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] Jaws of the Wolf

!!! Your army contains CID entries.

(Old Witch 2) Zevanna Agha, The Fate Keeper [+27]
– Juggernaut [13]
– Kodiak [13]
– Marauder [11]
– Spriggan [17]
Greylord Forge Seer [0(4)]
– Behemoth [25]
Greylord Forge Seer [0(4)]
– Rager [10]
Widowmaker Marksman [0(4)]
Battle Mechaniks (min) [3]
Kayazy Eliminators [5]
Kayazy Eliminators [5]

Trollbloods:

Trolls have come a long way since the start of Mk 3, and are probably one of the top factions at the moment. A bunch of small quality of life improvements and some new releases have really breathed some competitive life into the faction. In addition, Trolls are kind of a pain in the ass for Khador. They tend to be reasonably tough and hit pretty hard, on top of being less slow in general than we are. There are some major lists that have emerged recently, that have been taking the meta by storm including the likes of Madrak 1, Kolgrimma, Storm of the North in general, and some releases and improvements that have made the general beast bricks more effective. Probably the most common pairing at the moment is Madrak 1 Band of Heroes/Kolgrimma Storm of the North. Lets start with the most annoying of the 2:

Kolgrimma:

Kolgrimma has exploded onto the troll scene with a surge of popularity, and it’s not massively difficult to see why when you look at her card. She combines control and denial elements, along with a potent personal assassination threat and a threat range extender. Combined with the release of Storm of the North and the various Northkin models (goddamn bears!) and you have a pretty potent list that hits hard, fast and will usually get the alpha. The core of the list will generally be Kolgrimma, a Northkin stone, double bears and a unit of champions. From there, Glacier Kings seem popular, and a number of different models can end up in the list. In general, the list is going to try to rush up the board as fast as possible, using clouds to protect it’s things on the approach and getting the faster elements (bears mostly), as well as feat to buy enough time to get the harder hitting slower elements up the board. She’ll deal with infantry well, between her spray and auto point spell, as well as shooting things from range well. Even just her spray at POW 14 is pretty impressive, considering it’s backed by Dark Power and boosts. Drop wise, Witch is better here than Strakhov. The jacks aren’t going to go down as easily, requiring more of an investment, allowing witch to actually trade. The spriggan does a lot of work here, allowing the list to threaten things like Prowling bears, and models behind the cloud wall, whilst the Blind gun is great control for any infantry in the list. Importantly, Witch is just outside the range that Kolgrimma can comfortably assassinate on her own, with it being very difficult if Witch camps anything at all. Strakhov on the other hand, is a bit more difficult. At first glance it seems like a terrible idea to run single wound infantry into a caster with Grim Fate, Sprays and access to fire eaters, and it is a tough match. That being said, there is a game to be played here, based on the fact that Kolgrimma is going to have to do a lot of heavy lifting herself. The rest of her list is actually stuff that generally goes down pretty well to pikes (bears will usually go down to 2-3 pikes, and champs are exactly the kind of model pikes want to see). If you can feat at the right time, as well as use your counter charge models to protect your clumps of infantry from the likes of Fire Eaters and Bears, then this can be a 50/50, especially with the presence of Torch for cloud wall mitigation and Inviolable to deny feat (as an aside, though her feat strips pathfinder, relentless charge gets around this by the pikes gaining Pathfinder during charges, the more you know!).

Madrak 1:

Usually found in Band of Heroes, Madrak has a pretty simple game plan. Take a bunch of infantry, up their durability through tough with no knockdown and higher defence and push it into your face, using feat to either force an alpha or heal from one it took. Simple and easy, and also a pain in the ass to deal with. The core of the list is likely to be double Champs, with the rest of the list being support solos and either Tuffalos or Fennblades (each bringing it’s own problem). There is not much in the way of tricks here, Madrak will likely have a Bomber and a Mauler as his battlegroup, will throw his axe at stuff a lot, cast Guided hand if he has to, but mostly will just walk forward and present his troops to you. There will be Chroniclers putting out Heros Tragedy or Tale of Mists, and Fell Callers for Pathfinder or additional MAT, but in general this is not a complicated list to play against. Drop wise, Witch is probably the go to here, with Madrak not generally threatening very far with his harder hitting pieces, allowing you to use Eliminators, Behemoth and the Crow gun to control and remove things at range. In this case, it behoves you to focus on his faster pieces first. Whilst you can put a lot of damage on the Champions early, the plain fact is that pre-feat turn, the Madrak player is going to spread damage out as much as possible, then heal the entire unit to full when he feats. Taking the faster pieces first is generally prudent anyway, and means that Champs can be controlled with Blind and distance. Eat the elephant a piece at a time here, and you should be fine. Strakhov is also good here. The threat ranges that Quicken allows you to project can generally force the feat out early, and allows you to consolidate your lines without giving up scenario to much. This is also the kind of list that the pikes want to see. Limited ranged attacks, armour is not too high, and requires higher accuracy, which army wide MAT 8 is absolutely enough for. Still, Witch is probably still the correct drop here, due to the ludicrous def fixing and unjamming tech she has. Not to mention blessed on Behemoth being money in this match up.

Overall, Trolls is not a complicated match up, but it is a difficult one. As a brief mention, be aware of beast bricks coming up. The likes of Doomie 2 or Grim 1 running a beast brick can be a difficult prospect, and Witch will generally struggle somewhat with threat range projecting troll casters like Doomie 2. Her list can play the majority of these types of lists, but use your judgement. Otherwise, Witch is generally a pretty good drop into Trolls, and should be your first port of call. Happy Hunting!

Circle Orborous:

Damn Hippies! Circle is tricksy, ever so tricksy, with some varied casters, good beasts and various models with odd rules. Currently Bones of Orborous seems the most popular, with multiple pairings being seen with both lists in that theme. Kruger 2, Bradigus and Baldur 2 bear mentioning, and we’ll be looking at some generic beast bricks as well. Bones in particular got a big bump recently, with the Wolds changing somewhat as well as getting a new beast and gaining access to contruct Warbeast specific Enrage. Expect Circle to change relatively soon, as they are probably the next CID cycle after the Exemplar one due to start in May (my moneys on the Warpwolves getting a big point drop). Lets start with the Stormlord:

Kruger 2:

Kruger is back, and aren’t we all full of hatred. The big list doing the rounds at the moment is Kruger in Bones. He has a really good spell list for geomancy to take advantage of, he has a great control feat and is helped a lot by the lists ability to crack armour. The core of his list is usually going to be a number of Woldwardens, some Stoneshapers and Sentry Stones. From there he could have a Wold Wrath, Meglith, or the Fulcrum. The list is going to be pretty hard control, using TK to control heavies (he can get out 3 plus the number of geomancy bots) and Rebuke alongside his AOE scather spell to control infantry. He’s going to be very strong on scenario and if you’re not careful he’ll run away with the game. Witch is basically a non entity in this game. She does not have enough heavies or anti push tech to get around feat or TK, and will be constantly under threat from a TK assassination. Strakhov is, therefore, the compulsory drop. This feels like a bad match up, due to the presence of Rebuke and the pow 10 aoes, as well as the presence of a lot of sprays (stone shapers, black clads and Sentry stones).  However, though there is a lot of anti infantry tech here, the long threat ranges combined with how hard Pikes hit (last stand can be used here on the rebuked unit to simulate charging) can push you through the match up. It requires the match up to be played slightly differently, with the Inviolable resolve unit being used to anchor as much as possible, as well as the list needing to spread out to avoid being neutered by a wall of pow 10 AOEs. Once some of his tools get taken off the table, it is perfectly possible to grind through Krugers list.

Bradigus:

The mk 2 boogeyman is back. Pretty much auto put into Bones, due to the synergies inherent, this is going to be a straight up beast brick, with Sentry stones and support solos. Usually you’ll see a number of Guardians, a lot of Watchers and probably a couple of wights. From there, he’ll have various solos and sentry stones. The list is pretty ridiculously fast, using feat and shifting stones to threaten very far up the table, before retreating somewhat. It’ll hit hard and well through synergy, and will threaten assassination pretty well. Witch is not great here, due to the Wolds making short work of Khador jacks and threatening so far, but this isn’t a big deal, due to the likely presence of Kruger making Witch a non drop anyway. Strakhov is much more interesting. Bradigus has some anti tech here, including Sentry Stones, and feat to get around counter charges. Despite this, the simple fact is that the Pikes kill wolds pretty trivially. Keep an eye out for Wights coming in to set fire to all of your pikes and you should be fine. You will likely take the alpha, but through your own threat range, it should be fairly easy to predict when the alpha is going to happen and feat into it.

Overall, Circle is kind of a pain in the ass to deal with. Sentry stones are still one of the strongest units in the game, and Bones is pretty ridiculous right now. Their other themes are by no means weak, with the likes of Kaya 3 or Kromac 2 running great living beast bricks, and their infantry being solid with the likes of Kruger 1 and Una 2 (the latter being particularly good due to a really solid spell list, as well as being able to make Scarsfell Griffons kill basically anything in the game). Be on the look out for gotchas, like Baldur 1 in Secret Masters with a bunch of druids (those buggers are basically impossible to kill). Their control game is going to be strong, and their stuff is going to hit hard and well. Be careful with your positioning into Circle, or they will punish you for it. Most of the time, Strakhov is going to be the right drop (as long as you can play around Sentry Stones) as he has the armour, speed and accuracy to do well into the vast majority of Circle. So drop the pikes and watch your positioning.

Legion:

Ah, mutant dragons, how I despise you! Legion is enjoying something of a resurgence due to the latest up date that was dropped, with the most interesting change so far being the point drop to the Carnivean chassis of beasts. Legion Warlocks tend to be solid in terms of spells and personal output, and their lists as a whole excel at target selection, with good guns and Eyeless Sight. The lists being played at the moment vary alot, but there are some common themes. Thagrosh 2 and Kallus 2 are popular, as are Lylyth 2 and 3. Lets have a look at some list, starting with the big man himself:

Thagrosh 1:

Mr Swagrosh himself seems to have found a reasonably natural home in Children of the Dragon, bringing the character heavies available in that theme and stacking his aura with the Unyielding from COTD as well as his feat to trade well with his beasts. On top of this, the infantry available in theme are pretty excellent, with Swordsmen, Raptors or Hex Hunters all being interesting choices due to his spell list. The core of his llist is generally going to be Zuriel, Azreal and Typhon, giving him a good set of core beasts that have good guns between them (Azreal gets to POW 19 on his spear with Thags’ strength buff). From there it’s really down to taste what the player brings, as most of the Legion infantry benefits in mostly the same way from him, Fog of War for a good Def vs shooting, and Dragons Blood to hit even harder. Raptors are going to bring a fast harassing force that can gun down Lights and infantry, Swordsmen are going to be a great screen that is hard to ignore due to their Weapon master attacks, and Hex hunters will bring a mixed force that will proc prowl trivially with Fog of War. Witch is the right drop here. Wind Storm will help to minimise the amount of shooting the list can put out, and while Thagrosh’s beasts will be able to actually kill Khador Jacks, the lack of Seraphs will mean that his beasts do not actually out threat you that badly. Combined with Behemoth shooting, as well as Witch’s spell slinging and control element, it should be a fairly solid game. Strakhov is not a terrible drop, but the combination of multiple sprays, as well as potentially infantry clearing troops makes it not as interesting. Pikemen also suffer more from Thags’ aura than jacks tend to.

Kallus 2:

Another COTD caster, though he can be run in Oracles as well. Kallus is going to end up bringing a similar style of list to Thagrosh, though it’s going to play a lot differently. The core here is going to be Azreal and Zuriel, along with at least 1 Bolt Thrower. Here the infantry are going to be the main thrust, with the Heavies being used for hit and run attacks and threatening casters at extreme range using feat and Overrun. On top of that, he’s going to clear infantry well, due to his fire based spells. Drop wise, Witch is better here, being less vulnerable to fire in general with her list. On top of that, due to the fact there are no beast damage out put buffs here, she can play further forward than most casters, due to her being able to tank a legion heavy to the face with a reasonable camp. Using Behemoth and the Crow gun, it should be possible to deal with any of his infantry, and once the beasts are committed they will generally die. On top of this, Witch’s list is not particularly easy to proc Overrun off of, making it harder for Kallus to perform his shenanigans. Strakhov is actually somewhat terrible here, with Fire being the main issue. Most of the time when you send Pikes into kill things against Kallus, those pikes are going to get set on fire, and then die. It doesn’t seem like much in the way of attrition, but combined with sprays from Zuriel and Kallus putting out fire himself, as well as plentiful overun targets, it becomes difficult to attrition fast enough to survive the game.

Oracles:

This seems to be the bread and butter theme at the moment, with it being a generally good theme with a lot of casters, from Vayl to Rhyas. There are going to be a couple of archetypes here to look out for. The first is the beast brick, which will be run by the likes of Abby 2 and the Lylyth and will usually focus on a mixture of strong ranged shooting and melee output, usually in the same model, such as Carniveans and Ravagores. These particular lists will tend to have decent threat ranges, as well as some utility beasts like Seraphs and Bloodseers. They will usually not hit overly hard in melee, so Witch is a reasonable drop here, as Legion heavies usually trade badly into Khador heavies, especially into a Windstorm. Strakhov will generally be alright here, as long as you spread out enough to not be overly punished by Scathers and Sprays. The other archetype is going to be a bit more combined arms, usually rocking double Thrones. There are some interesting lists with Thrones, such as Rhyas and the Twins. There will be some overlap with the pure beast bricks, with the caveat that the Thrones will be able to range further afield. They threaten 12 inches without any help, and will deal a reasonable amount of damage, whilst absolutely mulching infantry. Again, Witch is good here. Thrones are one of the few big, expensive pieces that Witch can actually blind, though a lot of the casters who will run them have Occultation to make them Stealthed. Again, Strakhov is not terrible here, but is generally worse into these kind of lists than Witch, mostly due to the infantry clearing and control that Legion can gain access to.

Overall, Legion is always a tricky match up. They have a great ability to always do damage, whether at range or in melee. One of the reasons I generally recommend Witch, is that the presence of Heavies, combined with Windstorm and Re-construct allows the list to deny some of the work that Legion lists can do every turn. Since a lot of Legion lists tend to be somewhat fragile, denying some of this output can put a severe dampener on to a Legion players game plan, especially if you can take their pieces before they get much work out of them. Strakhov struggles with this kind of list, as whilst the pikes can be fairly durable, Legion has some very good methods to horribly murder infantry.

So that was me rambling on about the first 3 hordes factions. Next week, we’ll have a look at Skorne, Minions and Grymkin, which will cap us off on the meta.

On a quick side note, the MOW update dropped as I was writing this. It pretty much has ended up the same as it finished in the CID, so if you’re curious about my thoughts, check the archives for my articles on the CID. I will say that I will be taking an Armoured Corp list to the next big tournament and am currently playing the crap out of it. It’s pretty good you guys.

Cheers to Jon ‘Ja, das ist einen Barry’ Williams for proof reading.

Building a Khador Pairing: The New World

Continuing on in the series I started a couple of weeks ago, I’ll be covering the list pairing I built and how I think it will play into the meta. This week, continuing in PPI order, we’ll be looking at Retribution, Convergence and Mercenaries. Whilst not as meta dominating at the moment, these factions are still solid contenders and can be hard to play into if you don’t stop and consider what it is they’ll be bringing to the table. Lets take a look at our own lists first shall we:

 

Khador Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] Legion of Steel

(Strakhov 2) Assault Kommander Strakhov [+22]
– Rager [10]
– Torch [18]
Iron Fang Kovnik [0(4)]
Kaptain Sofya Skirova [0(5)]
Uhlan Kovnik Markov [7]
Great Bears of the Gallowswood [9]
Iron Fang Pikemen (max) [15]
– Iron Fang Pikemen Officer & Standard [0(4)]
Iron Fang Pikemen (max) [15]
– Iron Fang Pikemen Officer & Standard [4]
Iron Fang Pikemen (max) [15]
– Iron Fang Pikemen Officer & Standard [4]

Khador Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] Jaws of the Wolf

!!! Your army contains CID entries.

(Old Witch 2) Zevanna Agha, The Fate Keeper [+27]
– Juggernaut [13]
– Kodiak [13]
– Marauder [11]
– Spriggan [17]
Greylord Forge Seer [0(4)]
– Behemoth [25]
Greylord Forge Seer [0(4)]
– Rager [10]
Widowmaker Marksman [0(4)]
Battle Mechaniks (min) [3]
Kayazy Eliminators [5]
Kayazy Eliminators [5]

Retribution:

Retribution is a solid faction to play into. Really good infantry, good jacks, janky casters. Some of the lists they tend to play have been set for a while, with some others flying somewhat under the radar at the moment. Khador in general doesn’t tend to have massive issues with Ret, especially since Rahn seems to have fallen somewhat out of favour, but them elves is tricksy, so we should watch out. Retribution lists tend to be fast, reasonably hard hitting, but a little brittle. A lot of their jacks are deceptively tough, but don’t take attrition super well (most of the force field jacks have tiny grids to compensate for their force field) and Ret infantry tends to be on the upper scale of stats, with a lot of mat 7s or rat 6s, compensated for by being somewhat more expensive than most. So who do we normally see then?

Vyros 2 is the most common to be running their jack theme (Forges of War), being a synergy caster, as well as ludicrously hard to kill due to high stats and mobility. He’ll usually have Imperatus, a butt load of Griffons, as well as a bunch of support staff in the form of Arcanists, Sylas and Lynnsa Rysal. Between all this stuff, Synergy and Birds Eye, he’s going to bring a hard hitting, fast moving force that is going to threaten stuff way above it’s weight class. On top of this, Imperatus is going to be a constant assassination threat throughout the game, getting free charges with Vyros, as well as side steps. There are not many casters in the game that can survive 3 attacks from Imperatus with Concentrated Power at the top of the Synergy Chain. His battle group is going to ignore clouds and forests, so it is not easy to hide, especially combined with Easy Rider to give out Pathfinder if he needs it. All this means that Witch 2 is not the ideal drop here. It can be done, Griffons may threaten 13 without any help, but they need to spend 2 focus to do it, and are therefore only going to get 2 quality attacks off. Whilst every jack is going to have shield guard from the theme, the fact remains that Behemoths shooting is going to do significant damage to whatever it hits, and Witch can fling out a scourge every turn, as forcing the list to spend even more focus can help to blunt the alpha strike potential. That being said, Strakhov 2 is clearly the better drop, with Witch’s list being exactly the kind of list that Vyros wants to see, a brick of slow heavy warjacks that he can consistently trade up with. Strakhov on the other hand, is probably a bad enough match up for Vyros that this pairing will never see him. The pikes don’t require last stand to deal with anything here, and threaten as far as the Griffons do. Combine with Griffons struggling somewhat with the Feat turn(between high armour stopping the early synergy chain from doing much, as well as counter charges and tough), and overall Vyros does not want to see this list. Now, Vyros 2 is pretty common at the moment in Retribution pairings, so we must turn our attention to the possible pairs for him.

Defenders of Ios is going to be fairly common as well, and is an odd one. It will probably be run by Issyria or Elara, with Issyria being more defensive between Blinding light and Inviolable, whilst Elara is going to be much more offensive, using feat to alpha hard and quickly. The core of the list is going to be 3 units of Halberdiers, with 2 thanes for desperate pace. From their a bunch of combinations are possible. The Fane Knight will probably be a free model, as will Heavy Rifle Teams. Jack packages will vary somewhat, with the new Harpies and Sirens being popular at the moment for the shooting they bring to the list. With either caster, the Halbediers are going to threaten 15 inches on the charge, which is pretty monstrous, whilst Elara is going to make them hit like trucks, with POW 16s from each model. In addition, the Halberdiers having CMA means they will be able to deal with problem high def models if needed. At first glance, this looks like a terrible match up for both lists. The pikes are out threatened, and Witch’s jacks are pretty trivially dealt with by pow 16 infantry. However, having played the match a few times now, it’s actually much more even than it looks. The plain fact of the matter is that the list is somewhat fragile, not having much in the way of defensive tech. Witch’s list can generally control and kill enough Halberdiers at range to blunt an alpha (I had a game where between Behemoth shooting and the Blind cloud, my opponent could only charge with 1 model from the unit on 1 flank), and once the lines have engaged, the jacks can put out enough attacks to actually murder a lot of Halberdiers. Strakhovs list is a little more vulnerable to the starting dice roll, as being able to go first puts a lot of pressure either way. Ultimately, if you can feat at the right time and position your counter charges correctly, the Strakhov list can get through the long bomb charges and take a flank, attritioning from there, especially if you manage to keep your jacks alive into the late game. Ultimately, I think Strakhov is the better drop here, especially when considered in the context of the other pairing being Vyros 2.

Shadows of the Retribution is also being played fairly extensively at the moment, also with Elara and Issyria. The core here is going to be double strike force, with infiltrators and various mage hunter solos, with the main deviations being Narn or no Narn, double or single assassin, and which incarnation of Eyriss to take. This is going to be similar in style to Defenders, with a very fast list taking up a lot of table space. It’s going to perform better into Warmachine if only for Jack Hunter on the strike force, and will assassinate well. Trust me, Mage Hunter Assassins hurt when they hit under Issyrias feat, or with Scything Touch. That being said, this probably a better match for either list than Defenders, the plain fact being that Shadows just doesn’t hit as hard, even with Jack Hunter, nor does it threat quite as far, between losing out on desperate pace and 2 inch range on the guns. Either Witch or Strakhov could be played here (Strakhov threats far enough and is a hard brick to take apart, and Behemoth will murder a whole lot of Mage Hunters with blast damage), though Strakhov is probably the correct drop due to the likely presence of Vyros in the pairing.

There are a couple of other possibilities that bear a quick mention. Rahn is not great into either of these lists, as he will struggle to assassinate either caster between Inviolable on Strakhov and Witch being a huge base, whilst he probably won’t fair well in attrition with the usual lists he takes. Kaelyssa is a right bastard to deal with, but probably goes down to either list as well. Probably running Dawn guard, the Strakhov match up will be very dictated by Pikes being very good at murdering sentinels (and if Strak gets the first turn, it feels like Kaelyssa has to feat turn 1 to take board space), and the Witch match being not great due to the presence of the Spriggan, Eliminators and Witch being hard to assassinate even with focus draining potential. Overall, Retribution is less of a concern than some factions, bringing some hard games that are ultimately answerable to at least an even match up. I think just based on the ubiquity of Vyros 2 at the moment, Strakhov 2 is generally the right drop, but do be aware of mass ranged options that might take witch better.

Convergence:

As the shy girl said to the pushy frat boy, ‘ok, just the TEP’. Kidding aside, Convergence is interesting mainly for how similar alot of their lists end up being. There are only a couple of archetypes, mostly in Destruction Initiative. Your generally going to see a pairing with Axis or Lucant running a jack brick with 1-2 TEPs, paired in most situations with Iron Mother, or maybe Orion as a ranged brick, because Prime Axioms are rat bastards, as are TEPs. Let start with the Axis/Lucant brick.

Axis and Lucant are going to build slightly differently in most situations, with the core of the list being 1 or more TEPs, a big battle group and a bunch of balls floating around, mostly free (Free Balling anyone?). The damn balls are all going to have shield guard, and if it’s Lucant, all the Battlegroup models are going to have shield guard as well. So take all your dreams of shooting things and throw them out the window. Worst case, the COC player takes that shot, and shield guards it half way across the army by chaining shield guards, before exploding a random ball near a Conservator and giving it Righteous Fury. If you do that, then you’re likely to have a bad time. On top of all this, TEPs may have one of the most ludicrous damage outputs in the game, if they’re able to line up good sprays. And you can’t shoot them either, because of Sac Pawn…. Sigh. Melee it is then. For this reason, and reasons we’ll discuss in the other archetype, Strakhov is generally the preferred drop here. He out threats most COC stuff, can spread out across the board, and causes focus issues with all the Knockdown (there is nothing sadder than a COC warcaster having to allocate out their stack to shake on their battlegroup). The biggest problem here is going to be goddamn TEPs, and the abundance of auto point attacks available to the list (though most lists will end up taking more reflex and attunement servitors than extermination). The key to dealing with both of these problems is encirclement. Spread out! The pikes are faster, threat further, and have actually decent stats for this match up. Particularly in the Axis match up, this will lessen the impact of the Razor wall, as well as force Axis to pick a flank to feat on. In addition, anything you can do to skew the numbers, even slightly, is worth doing. TEPs firing at a Khador jack want to be able to go the full 5 dice of damage, but if your jack is stood on a hill, or has quicken on it, they need to either aim or hit it with goo to reliably hit. Equally with pikemen, the nightmare scenario is the TEP being able to aim and get off 4-5 sprays that murder a whole unit, so as counter productive as it may seem, keep up the shield wall. Between denying aiming, high armour and quicken, especially on the feat turn, most players will be forced into 2 high quality sprays, which if you’ve positioned right, should only get 2-4 pikes. Once the first TEP falls and the feat turn is over (with either caster), the rest of the army should start struggling on attrition. By comparison, Witch will struggle somewhat with Axis, due to him being able to pretty trivially catch everything in the feat, as well as controlling her jacks with Bulldoze. It’s not unplayable, but Strakhov does better here, despite the presence of some specific anti pike tech. It can be played around, so don’t get scared off.

Which brings me to the other Archetype you’re likely to see. Iron Mother. She’ll likely have an Axiom, some assimilators and, again, up to 2 TEPs (because goddamn TEPs). She’s going to set up her gunline and wait for you to come across the table, dragging in heavies with the Axioms and using Assimilators to wreck infantry. So this is primarily going to be a gunline, made worse by the presence of eliminator servitors and her own AOE spell, as it does auto points as well. The gut reaction then is that Witch is the right drop, but this is actually not a cut and dry match up. Whilst Witch has some anti shooting tech, the presence of Fire Group, back lash and Domination make playing Jacks into Mother difficult. It’s not a great thing if she back lashes a jack, walks it forward and then peppers it with puncture shots, doing large amounts of damage to Witch whilst also taking a Jack. It’s not a terrible match up though. Wind storm means that Mother has to play much further forward and rely on her spells more, and repair can keep witch running if the Mechanics are kept safe. Strakhov looks like a terrible drop at first glance. There are a lot of anti infantry shots in this list, between the Assimilators, TEPs and other things. It is a playable match though, it simply requires a shift in play style. By spending the first turn of the game moving to just outside the maximum threat range of the battle group (preserving as many pikes as possible), and then throwing an entire quickened unit of pikes in to jam along with feat, it is perfectly possible to jam the entire front line. Whilst the Mother list does have ways to un-jam itself, most of it’s un-jamming pieces are solos with poor RAT, or actually have to damage, meaning that most Mother lists will end up using quality attacks to clear off your jam unit. It then comes down to how much work the second wave can do. It’s probably a worse match up than for Witch, it relies on a lot of dice rolls for one, but it is playable. I would say overall, that what you drop here depends entirely on the other list.

Overall, Convergence isn’t a massively varied faction, which is the case with limited factions like Convergence or Grymkin. They are strong though, and not to be taken lightly. I would say that Strakhov is probably the correct drop in the majority of cases (he should do well into the various Clockwork Legions lists as well), being generally good into the battle group heavy lists that want to mix it up in melee. At the end of the day, it’s easier to threaten TEPs with threat 13 melee models than with threat 10, and a bunch of Witch’s usual tech doesn’t work here. She can’t blind most COC models, and a high percentage of them are steady as well. Pikes are probably the way to go.

Mercenaries:

This is going to be a long one, so I’ll try to stick to the most likely lists to be seen. Mercs is super varied, almost being a conglomerate of limited factions rather than a full faction in and of itself. A Magnus 2 jack brick is going to look completely different to a Thexus infantry horde, and that will be different to an Ossrum combined dorf arms list. Ugh, so much to cover. Mercs is broad enough that we have to talk about individual casters rather than themes. Lets start with the biggest bastard of the lot.

Magnus 2 is possibly one of the best jack casters in the game at the moment. He takes pretty reasonably fast jacks and makes them even faster, gives them an armour buff, is fairly survivable and has a pretty ridiculous control feat. He’s usually going to spam a bunch of jacks, likely Nomads, and then take some support pieces to help it hit hard and contest scenario. He’ll be using the combination of advance moving jacks and Escort to take up table space, before feating to either take control of scenario, or to prevent you getting into his lines. This is pretty much always going to be a hard match, any jack brick like this is going to be, but there are some things you can do to make it easier. A thing to remember here is that Mercs has no way to help with focus burden, so if you present multiple heavies to Magnus, the Nomads and Manglers he brings will usually require multiple rounds to deal with them. Another is to try to threaten him personally. Magnus is going to be sat at 13/19 usually, and can camp focus, but will be less threatening if he does. Threatening him personally can help to lessen the impact that his feat has. Match up wise, there is no disputing that Strakhov is the stronger drop here. Even with Escort and Unyielding, the Pikes both out threat and do enough damage to drop merc jacks, and the list is fast enough to spread out and avoid the feat doing enough damage. Witch by comparison has a game she can play here, but it’s not an easy one. Witch’s jacks are pretty slow, so it is hard to threat the feat out. This will allow the Magnus player to get multiple turns of work out of each jack (it’s frustrating having a nomad at full reach range and then being feated on so you can’t get close enough to it to hit it. The main mitigating factors here are going to be Behemoth and Witch’s various spells. Behemoth probably shoots well enough into merc jacks to cripple a jack a turn with reasonable dice (2 boosted 18s should do a ton of damage), as well as the counter punch being pretty devastating from the rest of the list. In the end though, Strakhov is clearly the better drop of the 2 and Witch should only be considered if the other list is a hard Strakhov counter.

Ossrum:

Ossrum is never going to be an easy game, and comes in essentially 2 flavours. Usually played in Hammer Strike, he’ll either have double Siege Crawlers backed up by mortars, forge guard and a few jacks, or he’ll go full ham on the battle group and spam drillers and gun bunnies. Either are not fun. Between Snipe, FFE and all the guns in the list, he’s going to whittle down anything that comes near his list, before the melee models of the list mop up. Simple plan, but effective. Witch is the better drop here, though not tons better. Despite the Siege Crawlers being quite threatening to her (4 dice damage is scary), Wind  storm shuts down a good portion of his plan. Combined with your unhindered shooting, as well as her control methods (Forge Guard are likely the best possible target for her gun) there is a definite game to play here, as long as you respect the threat ranges of the battle engines. You should eventually be able to grind down the list, so long as you don’t give stuff away for free (respect the Forge Guard, they hit hard), whilst also threatening Ossrum with assassination from Behemoth (Ossrum wants to be spending a fair amount of his focus every turn, between cycling FFE and snipe). Strakhov is by no means unwinnable though, being fast and fairly resistant to shooting. Getting first turn here is pretty huge, as the pikes can be a huge way up the board without losing too much to AOE scatters, as well as being pretty good at murdering Dwarf stuff. Main concerns to watch out for here is spacing, as Ossrums got a lot of AOEs, don’t let him get too much on the approach and you should be fine.

Thexus:

I’ve played opponents with Thexus in their pairing, but almost never actually played him. It’s a pretty terrifying sight though. Hordes of tough dudes, big scary Monstrosities, and Telekinesis (the scariest thing of all!). From a purely theoretical perspective, it’s pretty intimidating. Drudges will murderise most Khador jacks, there are a lot of sprays and auto hitting spells here and the feat combined with TK makes it hard to keep jacks safe. That being said, there is a game to be played generally with either list. Witch comes back to general control methods, as well as trying to mitigate the threat of the horde. Eat the elephant a bite at a time, and try to stay out of threat. The cloud becomes super important here, as does the supporting pieces in the list. Try not to throw your Eliminators away, as there are a lot of auto hitting POW 12s and MA 7 sprays to deal with them. Making maximum use out of every attack is also going to be key. For the Pikes, a lot of the game feels like it comes down to winning attrition, not letting Thexus get a lot on the feat turn with his feat, as well as taking down key pieces such as the Overlords and Mind Benders. Take all this with a pinch of salt of course, as I have very little in the way of experience with this match up. It feels overall like Witch is the right drop here, but honestly, you might not see him as he seems to have fallen out of favour recently.

There are other match ups I could talk about. Ashlynn in Resistance, Damiano in Kingmakers, etc, and they all come with their own tips and tricks. Generally, these are going to be infantry bricks, but Mercs come in all shapes and sizes and your going to end up having to make a judgement call at the table. Generally, Strakhov is going to be stronger into the battle group and infantry casters (magnus 2, Damiano, etc) , and Witch is going to do better into the gun lines, (caine 3, Ossrum, etc), but that’s not a hard and fast rule. Use your judgement.

Overall, after looking at these 3 factions, a theme emerged for me. None of these are ‘problem factions’. They don’t have massively one sided match ups for us, where you *must* take an answer list to deal with them. What they are, however, is solid. Most lists from these 3 factions are going to be a game, with not a great deal of advantage one way or another. This seems to be the way the game is going at the moment, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Assuming players prepare their list pairings well, and drop the correct lists, a lot of the time these match ups are going to be (for lack of a better word) fair. So polish up those skills and play the best game you can.

Next Week, having finished off the Warmachine factions, we’ll be diving straight into Hordes, with Trollbloods, Circle Orborous and Legion of Everblight. Same Avatar time, Same Avatar channel!

Thanks to Jon ‘If I were a Barryman’ Williams for proof reading.