I had another couple of interesting games of Warmachine this week, winning one game and losing one, both being very close games, which are the best kind, aren’t they? What has however made a huge difference, in addition to slowly gaining more experience, is changing my Warcaster from Captain Allister Caine to Major Victoria Haley, aka the most broken Warcaster this side of Cryx. This is the list that I am currently running. Many thanks to Tobias for critiquing my initial list and helping me come up with this one instead.
Major Victoria Haley: +5 points
- Stormwall: 19 points
- Thorn: 8 points
- Squire: 2 points
Arcane Tempest Gun Mage Pistoleers: 6 points
- Gun Mage Officer Adept: 2 points
3 Tempest Blazers: 6 points
‘Black 13’ Gun Mage Strike Team: 4 points
3 Stormsmith Stormcallers: 3 points
Arlan Strangewayes: 2 points
Journeyman Warcaster: 3 points
Haley is the glue that keeps the army together, being able to keep the army safe by using her feat or Time Bomb to slow down opponents, moving models (either side) with Telekinesis, shielding your troops from ranged fire with Deceleration, making units more accurate with Deadeye or increasing the speed and firepower of a ‘jack with Temporal Acceleration. Her feat alone is deadly, as it forces every enemy model/unit in 18″ to choose whether they want to perform an action or move, thus giving the ranged-focused army that is Cygnar another turn to unleash the pain or at least escape the enemy’s blades for another turn. As most games of Warmachine are won by controlling key areas of the battlefield to gain points, it is easy for Haley to clean some of those key areas then have your guys occupy them to gain points at the end of the turn. The opponent then has the choice to send in his men, knowing that they cannot attack and thus will end up being killed in all likelyhood or try to shoot every model out of the zone, which is difficult to do for many armies or worst of all, abandon the zone to let you score again in their turn and then once more in your next turn. As games usually go to 5 points and end as soon as one player has those points and more points than the other one, just yielding a simple 1 point control zone for 3 player turns will create an insurmountable advantage there and then. In addition, the alternate victory condition of killing the warcaster, ie Haley is equally different to fulfil if you cannot move towards her or attack her. Lastly, her feat also lets you choose the order in which the units in her control zone activate that turn, so you can activate support characters and units last, so the main units have to act without those buffs as they activate before the support units can do their work.
The Stormwall: Cygnar’s answer to the Knight Titan. It has two POW20 fists that also fry the nearest model to the target with a POW 10 lightning that automatically hits. If it is not in combat range, it has two POW 15 guns with a fairly long range and two gatling guns that can also be used to create 3″ circles nobody can move through without taking a POW 12 hit, so shredding most infantry or keeping them from moving to key areas or charge key models. As a Colossal, it is fairly slow, but luckily Haley can bond with it to give it +2 movement and her Temporal Acceleration spell gives it an extra +2 movement (so either a 9″ advance, a 12″ charge or a staggering 14″ run move)and a single extra shot with one of its guns. It also has an insane 56 damage boxes and is immune to being made stationary or knocked down. Finally, it can hurl a Lightning Pod 10″ after its movement, which then generates a POW 10 for each model between it and the Stormwall, but more importantly also forces enemy models to either kill it or move around it, thus hindering charges and generally being a nuisance. As if that wasn’t good enough, Stormsmith Stormcallers can also use Lightning Pods to call down lightning bolts to smite enemy models.
Thorn is a character Lancer warjack, having the same shield and spear weapon combination, though its stats are slightly better than those of a regular Lancer. More importantly, it has a couple of extra rules that are really worth the couple of extra points. First of all, if it is run by Haley, Haley can use Thorn’s Arc Node even if it is in combat, thus making it impossible to take the Arc Node out of commission by tying it up with light troops. Secondly, by spending a focus, it can move out of combat range of every opponent who misses it with a melee attack. But the icing on the cake is that every time a spell is channelled through its Arc Node, it can immediately make a 3″ move. This makes it the perfect tool to quickly break through the frontlines to cast a spell straight at an enemy warcaster or even threaten an assassination run.
The Squire is still the little helper midget it always was. Giving +2 to Haley’s control range gives her a monstrous 18″ control zone, second only to the Harbinger of Menoth’s insane 20″ zone. As you can measure your control zone whenever you want (but nothing else before declaring an action), Haley gives you an enormous edge, as you rarely have to guess ranges or see how far away a charge target is. And nothing is worse than failing a crucial charge or shot by being out of range. It also lets you re-roll a magic attack roll per round and even though Haley’s Focus 8 lets her hit most things easy enough, being able to re-roll means she rarely has to boost attack rolls and thus can use her focus more efficiently. It also grants her a ninth Focus point on 3 turns and as most games are over by turn 4, this effectively makes her Focus 9. In one game, I even used it as an accelerator, rushing it 11 inches forward to let Haley (9 inch charge plus 2 inch reach) charge it, as she cannot cast after running, but after charging. She then even used two focus to teleport it 2 inches away to avoid having to hit it (models cannot cast after a failed charge, so they must be in melee range of their target after completing their charge move, but there is a window to cast spells between the charge move and the charge attack, in which she could teleport it away so it was no longer in range, but had been the moment she finished her movement, so she did not have to hit it yet still got to cast spells).
So that’s Haley and her Battle Group, but what else is in the army?
The Gun Mage Pistoleers and their officer have really come on their own since I stopped paring them to a ‘jack. Before that, I used to deploy them in a way to get the most out of their warjack, but not where they could do the most themselves. Right now, they mainly serve as troubleshooting unit that can either deal damage 14 inches away, knock people out of control zones or out of shielding positions and especially do damage to units with Stealth, as the officer lets them ignore that annoying little rule. As most units with Stealth are rather fragile, their POW 10 pistols are mostly enough to take them out.
The ‘Black 13’ are an elite version of the Pistoleers, having even higher RAT and funky shots that lets them safely shoot into combat or deal massive damage, as well as being able to create beacons to take away Stealth, create mage storms that force people to move around them and just generally being a steal for 4 points
The Tempest Blazers are fast and have pistols, so they can break through the front lines, then threaten assassinations or take out key solos. Unfortunately I can only afford 3 in this list, not the full 5 I run with Caine, but they do their job well enough.
The Journeyman Warcaster is there to cast Arcane Shield on the Stormwall to take it to ARM 22, then upkeep the spell until he needs to switch it to Haley to keep her safe. After casting that spell, Junior keeps himself busy by using his remaining focus to get boosted attack rolls with his handcannon or maybe even charge someone. His stats are pretty poor, but having focus points to boost rolls makes him a decent combatant after all.
Arlan Strangewayes is the best mechanic in the game, being able to repair 1d6 damage boxes on a jack on a Skill Check of 10 (so rolling 10 or less on 2d6). He can even give a couple of other effects to a Warjack, though the ability to make a Stormwall Evasive to avoid Free Strikes sounds a bit weird. He also has a decent Spray attack to electrocute enemies and a beefy Monkey Wrench to wallop everyone who keeps him off his repair work.
But what do they actually bring to the army in addition to being good fillers? A lot is the short answer. Their uses are very funky, but depend on their position to each other. A single one can zap a single model in 10″ with a POW10 hit, which is nice but not terribly strong. If you have 2 in 20″ of each other, you can draw a line between them and zap two models along that line as the action of one of them, then activate the other one, move it (or leave it), then draw a new line (or the old one again) and zap two models along that line. Finally, if you have three in a triangle, each one can call down lightning on three guys in that triangle. So probably the first one you activate has to run 12″ to get behind the enemy, then the second one gets in position and triangulates to kill 3 enemies, then the last one goes full Thor on 3 more enemies. And as avid readers remember from a bit further up, the Lightning Pods set up by the Stormwall also count as Stormcallers for their abilities, so instead of having to run a frail old geezer with all the protection an insulated lab coat offers into enemy lines, you can just drop a Lightning Pod from your Temporally Accelerated Stormwall and have the mad scientists use that as part of their triangle. This means more triangulations and thus more fried enemies. As an added bonus, their Lightning Strikes are not Attacks but Actions. This means that some models that are immune to attack damage, such as Menoth Holy Zealots under the aegis of their Monolith Bearer, can still be affected by the lightning as it is an action, not an attack. Furthermore, to call down lightning on a model, they need to pass a Skill Check 8, so roll 8 or less on 2d6, not an attack roll, so even high DEF models can be electrocuted easily enough, not to mention that as it is an action, Stealth with only works on ranged attacks is ignored. Thus my 3 cheap as chips Stormcallers managed to merrily slay their way through Chris’s Mage Hunter Strike Force and Infiltrators including their leader, the hated Eiryss, Mage Force Strike Commander. As I really, really hate Stealth and ran a fragile warcaster in Haley, everything that kills Mage Hunters before they get to close is welcome.