The full info on Old Witch 2 was released lately and she has me frothing at the mouth to play her. Too bad I wasn’t at lock and load to pick up her pre-release. She’s had me thinking a lot about the way I design lists and what I design lists for, so I thought I’d come and pour those thoughts on the internet for all to see. That’s what we do these days right?
So list building? It’s a core process to the game and is where strategy is born, hunting down synergies to present on the table top. There are a lot of different ways that people build lists: focusing on particular modules, building for specific matchups, trying to amplify the strengths of a caster or a particular set of models, etc. I’ve always started with the caster, reading through War-room looking for something inspiring, and then trying to come up with an optimum list for said caster that takes as much advantage of their particular skill set as possible. Lets do an example of what I mean.
Strakhov 2. When I look at his cards a couple of things spring to mind.
1: Strakhov 2 is a buff caster that specialises in infantry. All of his upkeeps are focused on support, are best utilised on infantry (their being no battle-group specific spells or free charges to give to our jacks) and his feat specifically targets warrior models.
2: Strakhov 2 is a survivable caster. Khador has some of the best infantry support casters in the game (Irusk, Vlad, Butcher, etc), but they struggle sometimes with caster survival. Our base stats tend to be good, but most of our support casters want to be spending all their focus. Combine that with a tendency for these casters to put their opponents in a do or die situation and a lot of games are lost to assassination. Strakhov 2 on the other hand has access to a bevy of tech that can help keep him alive. Stealth, a cloud wall, good base stats, a spell list that allows him to camp, feat making him more survivable, etc.
3: Strakhov 2 prefers high armour melee troops. With a feat that gives bonus armour and tough, Inviolable resolve, a speed buff and a melee damage and accuracy buff, Strak is gonna get more mileage out of things that can already get to a high armour on their own. Combine this with quicken for threat range buffs and last stand to crack high defense or armour and natively high armour, hard hitting melee troops get cranked up to 11.
So these 3 points all point to Strakhov wanting high armour melee warrior models, preferably units, which means we can cut out a substantial number of models from a potential list (Jacks, Winterguard, Kayzy, etc) and also cuts 2 of the 3 themes from contention, leaving Legion of Steel and out of theme as options.
Considering the current environment, Legion of Steel is probably the first place to look, as playing in theme is a big advantage to playing out of theme. This gives us Ironfang pikemen, Black Dragons and Uhlans to look at. To decide what will constitute the majority of this list, I then look at Strakhovs drawbacks. He has 2 major ones. The first is a lack of access to pathfinder, he has it himself, but has no way to give it out. This eliminates Black Dragons for me. Though they could get to the highest armour with mini feat, and add a layer of abilities, the lack of native pathfinder makes them a 3rd place runner for me. Strakhovs other flaw is in Last Stand, with any model with that spell dying after making a melee attack. This disqualifies Uhlans for me, as they are too expensive to be throwing away like that. So we are left with vanilla Iron Fang Pikemen.
To me Iron Fang Pikemen meet all the criteria for Strakhov, getting to high armour natively, being reasonably fast on their own and gaining pathfinder on the charge. On top of that, the mini feat gives flexibility to the list, allowing the pikemen to run or charge something and still be in shield wall for the feat turn. They also have crit knockdown and CMA, which synergise well with last stand. The weaknesses that they have are then mitigated by the benefits from the theme, counter charge especially allowing the solos in the list to act as line guards.
From their the list builds itself, 3 units of pikemen, Markov, the great bears, a kovnik for no knock down, and you have a list that is fast, hits hard, is fairly resistant to small arms fire and trades well into battlegroup heavy lists. The only question that then remains is battlegroup. In this case, the list is lacking in guns and in cheap pieces to hold scenario, so my preference is Torch and a devastator. 2 destroyers is also an option, as well as just a juggernaut and a marauder to just fill jack points. Season to taste as it were.
So that’s my approach to list building, which I apply to most lists I make. Some casters are harder than others (Strakhov 2 is fairly obvious to me). But generally I can find some thread that each caster wants to follow. As a quick fire round of examples:
- Irusk 2 gives a lot of soft defense (tough, no blast damage, cover, etc) and can make just about any of our troops trade up whilst providing pathfinder and other solutions, so wants lots of cheap troops.
- Butcher 3 wants to be delivered, and has energiser, so runs quite well in a jack heavy list that can cloud wall/shield guard.
- Vlad 1 makes pretty much anything better, but doesn’t have a lot of focus, so wants cheap jacks backed by quality ranged attacks.
- Strakhov 1 makes everything fast, but has no damage buffs, so wants hard hitting things, also has a cap on resources, so wants a small elite battlegroup
Those are just some examples, with out much depth, but hopefully show some of what I’m rambling on about. With Steamroller 2017 out now, I thin Khador is in an even stronger postion than before, and hopefully, with the release of the likes of Witch 2 and the CID coming up soon, we’ll be seeing some interesting lists come out of the community.