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.
I’ve been meditating on some of my lists recently and have been thinking about the various lessons that playing some of our casters has taught me over the years. Playing Warmachine has been a real learning experience for me and when I look back at the difference in play between now and even a year ago, the difference is pretty big. I think the element of my games that has taught me the most is my own casters. I’ve played pretty much all of Khador’s Warcasters at this point, and each of them has a different lesson on the tabletop. I wanted to spend a moment going through some of the more significant ones.
Of all the Casters I have played in Mk 3, I think Strakhov has taught me the most. Strakhov is a caster that is all about threat range and mobility. Between feat, Overrun, Superiority and Sprint on Strakhov himself, any list that Strakhov pilots is going to be far faster and more slippery than any other list we can make in faction. The games that I played with him near the beginning of Mk 3 taught me that threat range in and of itself can be an advantage.
I played a number of games with him where my opponents would be trying desperately to keep their important pieces out of the 20 – 21 inch threat range that I could throw a jack up the board. This would often lead to them making bad decisions, or going on tilt as they tried to work around the obscene threat ranges that Strakhov could threaten. On top of this, the sheer mobility that was on offer often allowed me to pull off moves that my opponents often would not see coming, such as weakening a blocking model and then charging it with a jack and overrunning through the gap to get to a caster.
The other major thing I learned from Strakhov is the value and necessity of proper resource management. Strakhov is a focus 6 caster, who wants to runs jacks. Generally this meant that I had to make hard decisions about when, where and to who I would be casting spells and allocating focus. I often had to pare back my expectations about what I could get done, and take whatever I had available to me to swing dice math in my favour. I can recall a number of games where the decisive play was me using the feat just to get a free charge. All of this helped to teach me with other casters where I was wasting resources.
Butcher 3 taught me 2 things in particular. The first was the sheer value of having a threat on the board on Butchers level. Butcher 3 does not support his army, his feat doesn’t help anybody but him and he tends to use his force as an entourage to deliver him. The upside of this is the promise that Butcher makes you, that if you can get him into the enemy with feat intact, he will kill basically anything in the game. I cannot think of another model in the game that can flat out kill stuff better. I have had games where I was left with 1 jack and not much else, and Butcher has killed so much in 1 activation that the attrition is now on my side.
Due to this, and the reputation that Butcher as a caster has, often times you can force your opponent to make bad decisions simply through the fear that butcher can inspire. You can leverage this to make good trades with your force or to gain scenario advantages. I’ve taken this lesson into other match ups, and used that knowledge to play into other bug bears, such as Haley 2, or Denegrha 1, playing through the rough turns and emerging the other side to win games.
This leads into the second lesson that Butcher has taught me. That there is no such thing as too safe for your caster. I am an attrition player, especially with Butcher, and I often leave my opponent in a position where the only thing they can do is kill the Butcher. Inevitably, in some games they do. Butcher has a great stat line, can often camp 3 or 4 focus and be behind a wall of jacks, and he still dies to desperate plans. This was eye opening to me, as I realised in a lot of my other match ups, this was happening as well. It led to me developing better methods of keeping him safe, and through that of keeping my other casters safe.
Irusk 2 is a great caster, possibly the best troop caster in the game. Between his tough aura, Solid Ground and battle lust, he excels at taking cheap infantry and making them survive and kill things far outside their weight class. The main lesson that I have taken from him though is the value of flexibility.
One of the things that makes Irusk 2 so great is that he can take any of our infantry and make them kill high armour targets. Winter guard, Assault commandos, etc, all take down things they have no business taking down with battle lust on them. The advantage of this with Irusk is that you can take a variety of infantry to solve your other issues (clearing infantry, pathfinding, etc) and just have any of them deal with enemy heavies when the time comes. This forces your opponent into difficult straits. Ideally, any player wants to kill the things that can deal with their key pieces, whether that’s a Colossal or a centre piece unit or a couple of heavies, and will prefer to keep those pieces away from the things that can deal with them. When your entire list can, at a moments notice, become a weapon master, where does your opponent put their heavy that they’re not trading down. This is a lesson I’ve used to even greater effect with Strakhov 2. That list can make any of the 3 units of Pikemen in it threaten further or hit harder or become harder to kill. This flexibility means that my opponents often have to respect my entire force when manoeuvring, and gives me options to deal with bad match-ups.
Those are the main 3 casters that I feel I have learned the most from. Have a think yourselves, what have you learned from the lists and casters you play?
Haven’t posted in a while due to my hated enemy, real life. Have just come back from Cardiff and Firestorm games which were hosting the European Team Championships. My club fielded 2 teams and we ended up 10th and 9th, a great result up from last year’s 17th and 12th. Thought I’d post a quick round up of the rounds.
Me: khador myself with strakhov 2 legion of steel and butcher 3 Jaws of the wild
Jonathon Clarke: menoth, unthemed high reclaimed and guardians of the flame Thyra
Paul Jordan: Skorne with zaal 2 and Zaadesh 2
Jace Winter: Trollbloods with power of dhunia Doomie 2 and band of heroes Jarl
Christopher Clare: Retribution with Forces Vyros and Forges Rahn
Lost the round roll8 off and picked the tables. Ended up in the mirror playing into Khador. He dropped butcher3 winter guard kommand (battle engine and everything) and I dropped Strakhov 2. Game was grindy with me assassinating turn 4 between quickened great beard and last stand pikemen. Our team won that round 4-1
Yay, team England lions. Because of course. I ended up in the mirror again, this time against Richard Beech. He dropped Vlad 1 with 5 jacks and all the rockets. I dropped butcher having played the Strakhov – vlad match before. What followed was one of the best games I’ve ever played. Neither of us really made any mistakes and what swung the game in the end was Ruin going in on a marauder fully loaded and failing to even cripple a system. This forced me to position badly and things went down from there. Butcher ended up dead. We lost 4 – 1.
We end up playing playing team Wales. I got Legion in the end who surprised me by dropping vayl 2 in Oracle’s rather than fyanna. I drop strakhov. He has the Throne, but between tieing up the hellions helpings and some countercharges I score 3 in one turn (extraction is the scenario) and he has no way to contest one of the flags. My team wins this round overall.
We get team Scotland, who are difficult, and I get the mirror again. The match up is once again butcher 3 into vlad. This game goes much better, with me sniping all 9 rockets out early on. Between positioning and failing to kill ruin, I manage to get a fully loaded ruin into Vlad which kills him. The team loses this round 2 to 3 though and we end the tournament at 2-2.
We were all pleased to do better than last year. Next up, the Midlands open.
So I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of Khador’s competitive lists. Mark 3 is almost a year old and the meta is shifting. Between new releases, SR2017 and people trying out less obviously powerful pieces (looking at you Ghost Fleet) we are seeing more and more lists that are breaking the initial wisdom that big battle-groups are the answer. My prediction is that the current trend of troop swarms is going to continue and bring something like a balance to the international meta. With that in mind, I wanted to have a look at some lists I think are going to be powerful in the coming year. A quick disclaimer: A lot of this is based around models and theme lists making it out of CID without changing too much.
To start, a list of some of the things I think we’re going to be seeing more of:
- Battle Engines: The Battle engine CID was long and very interesting and has produced some good results in raising the power level of the various battle engines in the game. Expect to see them in multiple lists, as most of them now are actually performing very well compared to Beasts/Jacks.
- Troop Swarms: SR2017 seems to be favouring attrition play, and with the zones spreading out much further, I think we will be seeing a lot more in the way of units and solos that can take up more real estate on the board.
- Innate Pathfinder: SR2017 also is introducing much more in the way of terrain, with boards generally looking denser and being harder to move around. This makes abilities like Pathfinder, flight, incorporeal, etc more useful. Based on this we will likely end up seeing the squishier troops (as the scout esque designs are the ones that tend to have pathfinder) or casters that have ways of handing out pathfinder.
On to lists!
List 1: Old Witch 2 (Jaws of the Wolf)
(Old Witch 2) Zevanna Agha, The Fate Keeper [+26]
– Juggernaut 
– Juggernaut 
– Kodiak 
– Kodiak 
– Marauder 
– Rager 
Greylord Forge Seer [0(4)]
– Behemoth 
Greylord Forge Seer [0(4)]
Widowmaker Marksman [0(4)]
Battle Mechaniks (max) 
I played quite a bit of Old Witch 2 during the CID and was very impressed with her. She is, IMO, uncontested in Khador for her ability to run a big Battle-group well. Jaws is a natural home for her, as the Forge seers give her some flexibility with her focus. She also brings a new trick to Khadors arsenal. She can have a jack survive on 1 box, repair it back up to full functionality and then fully fuel it as well. This is a trick that other factions can do (Ret, every horde faction) but has been missing from Khador for a while. Additionally, Re-construct is a big deal in Khador, bringing what is effectively Admonition into faction. It takes effort to 1 round a Khador heavy, usually requiring buffs or more than 1 heavy. Being able to increase the amount of resources required to take down a jack is just kind of mean in some match ups.
In addition, she runs marshalled jacks better than any other caster in Khador. Between all her de-buffs you can have Behemoth shooting at an effective POW 18 that is Blessed and Magical. Top that off with her general survivability (made better by the addition of the Rager to fend off pesky Eyriss shots or just to tank a defender shot), her de-buffs and Windstorm delivering our jacks to the mid table without getting too dinged up by guns, and Old Witch 2 is looking like our best Jack caster to date.
List 2: Sorscha (Winter Guard Kommand)
(Sorscha 1) Kommander Sorscha [+29]
– Juggernaut 
– Marauder 
– Rager 
Kovnik Jozef Grigorovich 
Winter Guard Infantry (max) 
– Winter Guard Infantry Officer & Standard [0(4)]
– Winter Guard Rocketeer (3) 
Winter Guard Mortar Crew [0(5)]
Winter Guard Mortar Crew [0(5)]
Winter Guard Rifle Corps (max) 
– Winter Guard Rocketeer (2) 
Winter Guard Gun Carriage (CID) 
Winter Guard Gun Carriage (CID) 
The Battle engine CID was exciting, in that it has re-vamped a bunch of models that no-one was taking. Couple this with a caster who has Boundless Charge and fixes the Gun Carriages crappy RAT, we’re onto a winner. The Gun Carriages in this list are acting as jamming models, while also providing a gun platform that can dig really deep to remove key pieces, one that isn’t as constrained by terrain pieces due to it’s speed and innate Pathfinder. It is also hard as balls to kill, requiring a concerted effort to remove.
Sorscha 1 on the other hand, is still awesome. She plainly got better between mark 2 and 3, receiving a point of armour, weapon master vs stationary, a cost drop on her signature spell Freezing Grasp and a major boost from the changes to the focus mechanic. The reason she hasn’t been seen on the table for Mark 3 has been a meta one, not anything innately wrong with her. That being said, if the predicted infantry meta materialises then she will likely shoot right back into the competitive scene. Between some hard control element of infantry models, (I can remember a game in mk2 where she was surrounded by Bane thralls and perfectly safe, as she kept freezing them), the fact she is still running 5 models at armour 20 and 30 plus boxes, and the gunline elements brought by Winter guard, she should do well.
List 3: Theoretical Man-O-War Theme list
This one hasn’t even been announced as far as benefits are concerned, but the Man-O-War theme has been announced, and will likely give free points on man-O-War stuff. Am predicting Man-O-War solos and units, along with mecaniks to be included. Regardless of what the other benefits (am predicting some buff for the jacks involved and +2 inches of Deploy personally, but will see) this could be a really strong theme. Man-O-War Shocktroopers are currently 16 points, with a 4 point UA and a 5 point solo, slotting nicely into the usual free point levels for infantry, and are a really solid choice at the moment, only over shadowed by the themes currently out.
A full army of Man-O-War, backed by several cheap jacks (say 60 points of shocktroopers, which is 3 full units with UA, netting you 3 free solos coupled with 40 odd points of Jacks) could be a very intimidating advancing line of dudes to deal with. If that materialises, expect to see the likes of Strakhov 2, Kozlov (I said it!), Irusk 1 or 2 and Vlad 2 at the helm. All of them synergise well with heavy infantry, with a little left over for their jacks. Could be the next armour skew.
All in all, the next year of releases is going to be fascinating in shaking up the meta. The reveal of structures, the amount of additions that Ret and Cygnar have had along with the revisions going through CID point to a very vibrant and diverse meta, and I’m looking forward to seeing what puts an axe through it best.
Going into the final round of the tournament I have 5 wins and 1 loss. Am aiming for 6 wins, so the final round has me nervous. In addition, Round 6 had me finishing late thanks to the epic grind that was Toby Nathans Madrak 3 list, so I was rushed getting my lunch. I end up near the top table paired against Toby Jennings, who was kind enough to let me finish eating before we started clocks. He was running COC with Lucant and Iron Mother, both in theme (unsurprising) and both without TEPs (very surprising). After looking over his lists, I prefer Strakhov over butcher, despite a heavy amount of auto wound causing stuff in the mother list. I drop Strakhov, he drops Mother (as I feared), and off we go. Scenario was Extraction. List below:
Convergence Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] Destruction Initiative
(Directrix 1) Iron Mother Directrix [+27]
– Assimilator 
– Assimilator 
– Corollary 
– Diffuser 
– Mitigator 
– Prime Axiom 
Attunement Servitors [0(4)]
Elimination Servitors 
Elimination Servitors 
Elimination Servitors 
Reflex Servitors [0(4)]
Reflex Servitors [0(4)]
Reflex Servitors [0(4)]
Optifex Directive 
I win the roll off and spend a good amount of time agonising over the choice to go first or second. He has a lot of shit that can just murder pikemen. I eventually settle on second and pick the side of the table with more walls. Also a hill to my right and a big forest in the centre, with a big wall running along the centre of the table. I deploy in standard formation, with strak and the jacks behind the forest and the centre pikemen offset to the side of the forest.
He deploys the axiom off centre to the left and the heavies on the other side, with the diffuser on the right and the mitigator on the left. Mother is central.
Round 1: Fight!
He runs everything forward as fast as he can, getting the reflex servitors dug in just in front of his lines. So far so normal.
I spend a good 5 minutes still agonising about what to do. In the end, I put quicken on the centre pikemen, who advance moved, and Feat, charging strakhov forward into the forest and giving him stealth, camping 3. The centre pikemen then minifeat and run to engage as much as possible, getting all the servitors, the heavies, the lights on the right and the axiom tied up, while also being in shield wall and under feat. The officer and the flag are central behind the wall. Everything else runs up as afast as possible, with markov joining the centre pikemen behind the wall, the right flank mini feating and moving up and the left flank just running. I think he has more to deal with.
My opponent is somewhat flabbergasted, he didn’t think I’d get up that far so fast, and is not sure what to do. He spends the turn trying to clear stuff out of melee, with mostly gunfighers, but the def 14 manages to save a number of pikemen. 1 heroic pikeman who is engaging one of the Assimilators tanks something in the range of 10 attacks, with reflex servitors missing, or him toughing and not being knocked down. He ends up having to back off his assimilator to take a free strike, which promptly crits and knocks it down, spiking damage as well. My opponent is on full tilt at this point, and ends the turn having killed most of the centre pikemen, and a couple from the right unit.
My turn and less has died than I thought it would. The remaining centre pikemen get Last Stand and the left hand unit get quicken, which ends up killing a bunch of servitors, the Mitigator, hurting the axiom (the great bears go in on it) and crippling both heavies. Markov and the left hand pikemen hang back as another wave.
Toby continues trying to clear off his gunline and kill pikemen, finally finishing off the centre unit and gutting the right hand unit.
My turn and the great bears kill tobys objective, Markov goes and controls the left hand flag. Last standed pikemen from the reserve unit manage to put down the Axiom and the 2 heavies get cut down to 1 heavy.
Toby knows the game is over and spends the turn trying to score points, which he does. He both agree that I’ll get to 5 trivially and the game ends there, with the score 5-3.
Victory for the Motherland!
Post Game thoughts:
Toby is a great player, he ended up getting best in COC in the end. He played as well as he could under the circumstances, but this game was a great example of how you can play a list into bad odds by adjusting your strategy. The pikemen running turn 1, combined with feat meant that Toby struggled to clear them. Because of that, the rest of the force got delivered almost untouched and just swept up his gun-line. Strakhov continues to impress with just how hard his feat makes pikemen. This was a list that could specifically kill a lot of pikemen, and I managed to pull it out between tough rolls and quicken.
In the end I finished 7th over all, which is my second best result at a tournament, and best in Khador. A fantastic result that I am very pleased with. Next stop. The ETC!
Am finally out of Cryx infested waters, and into the high seas of Trollbloods. Am paired against Toby Nathan, a fantastic Troll player who is running Madrak 3 and Doomie 3. Since there is no way I’m dropping Butcher 3 into doomie (because implacability), I drop Strakhov. He drops Madrak, and off we go. Scenario was take and hold. List below:
Trollbloods Army – 74 / 75 points
[Theme] Band of Heroes
(Madrak 3) Madrak, Great Chieftain [+29]
– Pyre Troll 
– Troll Bouncer 
– Troll Impaler 
Fell Caller Hero [0(5)]
Fennblade Kithkar 
Fennblade Kithkar 
Stone Scribe Chronicler 
Trollkin Champion Hero [0(5)]
Trollkin Champions (min) 
Trollkin Champions (max) 
– Skaldi Bonehammer 
Trollkin Fennblades (max) 
– Fennblade Officer and Drummer 
Trollkin Warders (min) 
I win the roll off and choose to go first. Terrain is pretty unimportant, rubble in the centre of my side of the board, a wall to the right of his flag. I deploy in standard formation, with strakhov behind the rubble. He deploys with his fennblades spread across his line, champions central, warders with madrak, solos in the centre and the kithkars on either flank.
Round 1: Fight!
I run everything forward, central unit getting inviolable, right hand unit getting quicken.
My opponent does much the same, running everything as far forward as possible and feating.
So I have a wall of trolls in my face, and 2 choices. Back off or dive head first into the meat grinder. I decide to dive in, as it will allow me to dictate some positioning. The turn gets messy quickly as 1 fennblade keeps toughing and moves in to jam 1 of my units. I manage to cut down most of the fennblades in the end as well as a champion. Not a huge amount dies but I get most of the front rank off the table, spending my mini-feats to get into shield wall. Strakhov feats, covering as much as possible and gets within walking distance of the flag.
My opponent is now faced with much the same dilemma as me, and on the vengeance move, procs a counter charge from the kovnik. He goes through his turn killing bits and pieces, bouncing off armour in most cases. He fails to kill markov, after setting up a charge for his champions on him, he moves the fennblade CA within 6 inches and gets countercharged, with Markov ending up outside of most of the charges. He eats a champion to the face and survives. The great bears also make some counter charges, killing a champion and some fennblades. By the end of the turn, I’ve lost most of my centre unit, some on the left and none on the right. He scores the flag and goes to 1
I continue stabbing trolls to death, killing most of the champions, the rest of the fennblades, both kithkars, the fell caller and the chronicler. I contest the flag with some pikemen, and get strakhov on the flag. Score is 1 all.
My opponent manages to clean up most of the pikemen, kill the great bears and markov. He ends his turn having cleared the flag and scores another 1, contesting my flag with the pyre troll.
The game is rapidly going down to time, so I have to start playing fast. I run the devastator into contest the flag and also block off the warders and bouncer that are poised to approach my flag. Torch kills the pyre troll and sprints to also block off the warders. The remaining pikemen charge and damage the impaler. Strakhov and co shoot some things and remain on the flag.
My opponent is almost out of time, but also in a position to possibly win the game next turn. He runs madrak off the flag, positioning him to clear my flag out next turn, while blocking in my jacks with the warders. As he is running his remaining fennblades in to threaten as well, he runs out of time, with me scoring 1 more time to make the score 3-2.
Victory for the motherland!
Post game thoughts:
Trolls are hard to kill. I think I made the right decision on list drop. Butcher does better into this list because of silence of death, but Doomie is a concern. The decision to commit turn 2 was correct as well I think, good use of counter charge made things hard on my opponent and armour 23 when you can’t charge is hard to break even for weapon masters. Anyway, onto round 7!