I realize that the blog was rather quiet this month, but now that I have recovered from my summer cold/virus, I want to start posting again and also get more games in as I still have three weeks’ time before school starts again. As my timetable for next term is rather loaded (I work every day at least from 5pm to 9pm, thus preventing me from doing a lot of extracurriculars like gaming in the week), I want to use the free time constructively before that.
So while this week was still part of the process of recovering from the really annoying cold I caught in the Netherlands (that’ll teach me not wearing a jacket because it is only 5 minutes from the hotel to the tournament venue), I did manage to paint one model: this one.
I previously posted a couple of scale pictures with the Stormwall and some Eldar Wraithknights and Wraithlords, so I guess you have a rough idea of its size. As you might also remember, I had put it together to use it in game already, but during the process of painting, I dismantled it again and did the legs first, then the arms, before doing the guns and lightning coils and finally the torso itself. This was much easier than doing it all in one go as the small parts like the coils got in the way of painting the chimneys behind it. I am still not the world’s finest painter, but the paintjob does its job on the field I hope.
I managed to play five games this week and last, using my Cygnar guys, but trying a new caster: Lord Commander Coleman Stryker, King Leto’s personal beatstick and go-to guy when a butt needs being kicked. In the fluff, Coleman has been the major decider in all of Cygnar’s stories, even going so far as to kill the Hierarch (Pope) of the Menite religion when the Menites threatened to overrun Caspia, the Cygnaran capital. He now leads his own special division of the Cygnaran army, the Storm Division, to personally deal with Cygnar’s many opponents.
He plays very differently from the other warcasters I have used so far, being a melee-oriented caster first instead of a ranged caster. But he is not the Butcher of Khador either, as I had to notice in my first two games. This means that when I used him as a frontline fighter, he ended up getting shot and killed twice-. The first time, I tried to use him to start an assassination run on a Trollblood Warlock with full health and a transfer left, which resulted in him dying to a shot by the enemy warlock after taking a free strike from a Gargantuan that I should have charged instead of trying to move around it and pull off an impossible move. In the second game, I equally moved him too aggressively and he ended up being shot by the enemy caster again. In the next three games, I used him as a second wave fighter to move behind the first wave and aid in the most important fights and he was better in that role. Again, I am still getting to grips with the game and my casters in particular, so I am not using him at more than 80 per cent of his potential. However, I have more games lined up for this week and hope to gain more experience with him, but also use eCaine again to improve my game with him too. As most tournaments use a two- or even three-list format that lets you alternate between your casters, I want to get reasonably good with at least three Cygnaran warcasters and possibly even more of them. So I am working on eCaine, eHaley and eStryker at the same time, whilst also looking into making eNemo (one of the less popular warcasters) work for me.
My current 50-points eStryker list is:
Lord Commander Coleman Stryker +6 points
Squire 2 points
Ol´Rowdy 9 points
Lancer 6 points
Captain Arlen Strangewayes 2 points
Stormblade Captain 2 points
Journeyman Warcaster 3 points
6 Stormblade Infantry plus Officer, Standard Bearer and 2 Stormgunners 10 points
10 Sword Knights with Officer and Standard Bearer 8 points
Stormclad 10 points
Madelyn Corbeau, Ordic Courtesan 2 points
Rhupert Carvolo, Piper of Ord 2 points
What do the different units do?
Lord Commander Coleman Stryker is the Warcaster and toolbox of the army. He has a plethora of useful spells and a decent focus of 6. His spells include: Rebuke, a finesse spell that lets him stop enemies from using orders and special attacks. This stops, amongst others, charge and run orders, shieldwall orders, throws, slams, threshers, tramples and so on. This lets you dictate the flow of the battle as it slows down opposing units, stops them from using fancy manoeuvres and just in general anything beyond bog standard advancing and punching. And this is one of his less spectacular spells. He also has Deflection to grant bonus ARM against shooting and Lightning Storm to drop a high POW blast that remains in play for a round. These spells let you dictate the flow of battle by negating the effectiveness of enemy shooting or creating denial zones. But he also shines as a support caster thanks to Positive Charge, a spell that grants an attack and damage boost to a target warjack and friendly units within 2″ of that warjack. This bonus actually combines with the bonus the Sword Knights generate to create some fearsome synergies (more of that below). Finally he has Velocity that lets him pay up to three Focus to move two inches per Focus. This is the spell for the assassination run, should the opportunity present itself. But again, it should remain an option and not the end-all and be-all of Stryker.
In addition to his spells, he also has a ROF 2 handcannon and a high-powered sword that both create Disruption (no focus can be allocated to a disrupted model for a round) if they hit a Warjack. He can also take up to 3d6 worth of damage boxes to gain an equal amount of d6s as a Strength bonus, even though that actually means that at least someone somewhere has managed to kill off Stryker by rolling an 18 for damage (he only has 17 damage boxes), which lets him hit amazingly hard if he tries a hit on an enemy caster or colossal. As Commander of the Storm Division, he also commands an Elite Cadre of Stormblade Infantry, letting them move once before the game to mitigate their lower SPD. Finally, his Feat, Rolling Thunder, is activated after each unit has been activated to let each Cygnar model in his control range move 3″ and then make a melee attack, thus giving you a mini extra turn. For slower units, this means that you can let them run to double their movement, then add another 3″ and still get in an attack. It also lets you capitalize on a breach in the enemy frontline to break through and assault second-line models or even a warcaster. As such, it can be game-winning, but then again, most Feats are.
Squire: Does the same thing it does in every Cygnar army, increasing the caster’s control range and giving extra focus if necessary.
Ol´Rowdy: In eCaine’s army, Ol’ Rowdy is primarily a blocker that does not require a large Focus investment to work. In eStryker’s army, he comes on his own. First of all, Ol´Rowdy is Stryker’s personal jack and thus shares an affinity with him. So if they are in base-to-base, Stryker goes to a phenomenal DEF18 and cannot be knocked down, whereas Ol’ Rowdy cannot be moved when slammed. In addition, Stryker can use his Warjack Bond with Ol’ Rowdy to give him a third attack dice on his first attack each turn. As Rowdy’s hammer cause Knockdown on critical hits (so doubles on the dice) or can be used as a special knockdown attack on each model in 2″, having more dice can trigger a lot of knockdowns to neutralize important models. Heck, as the extra affinity dice is not a boost, it can be combined with a regular Focus boost to roll 4d6+8 on Rowdy’s attacks, letting him hit even the most insanely high DEF values. Rowdy is still Aggressive so he needs less Focus to function well and he can still Counter-Charge to disrupt enemy moves. So he is solid in a Caine list, but tremendous with Stryker.
Lancer: The last adjustment to the list and due to a long diatribe by Tobias and a lot of reading-up on the Internet. The Lancer not only adds an Arc Node to increase Stryker’s range, but it also has a Reach weapon, that will come in handy once we get to the Sword Knights. Having a Lancer in addition to Ol’ Rowdy lets me spread my Jacks around to cover the field and thus have multiple potential targets for Positive Charge. I have not regretted including him so far.
Beyond Stryker’s battle group, I have:
Arlan Strangewayes: Does what he does, repairing stuff and giving a Focus point in a pinch.
Journeyman Warcaster: As always, gives +3 ARM with Arcane Shield and then takes potshots with his handcannon. Here, he works particularly well with Deflection to create 20+ ARM units against shooting.
Stormblade Captain: a 2-points guided missile. He hits like a ton of bricks, averaging 27 damage on a charge, enough to kill even a Trollblood or Ogrun solo or cripple a light jack, but he also has Pathfinder to charge through terrain, can move through Stormblade models and crucially adds the same abilities to all Stormknight units (such as Stormblades here). That means that he can advance behind the Stormblades and thus be invisible to enemy shooting and impossible to charge, then charge right through them and lay the smackdown on someone.
Stormblade Infantry with attachments: The heavy infantry. They have a scarily low DEF for Cygnar models, but a high ARM that can be boosted further by Arcane Shield and Deflection. They hit very hard in combat with their signature weapons, having Elite MAT and high POW. Their RAT is not that great, but they can still shot lightnings from their swords. These ranged attacks are short-ranged, but the leader’s special glaive gives them a bonus to range and damage. The Standard adds a 3″ blast template to each hit (but only to hits, not misses) and finally the Officer lets them perform an Assault Order that lets them charge and shoot at the same time. As their shots have the Electricity type and they themselves wear insulated jumpsuits under their armour, they can even safely shot each other (or other models that are immune to electricity, such as the Stormblade Captain, Stryker or the Stormclad) in the back to gain easy hits on high DEF models. They are a no-thrills, no-fuzz unit that performs its prime role of hitting hard targets in melee whilst having additional flexibility with its shooting.
Sword Knights with attachments: Cygnar’s cheap cannon fodder unit is not actually a cannon fodder unit at all, but actually a highly-trained cadre of specialists that can perform its job very well or just be sacrificed to buy time for more expensive units to do their thing. Their Officer is a jack marshal with the special Pronto drive, so he can take a command check on his high command (with a re-roll thanks to the standard) that lets the marshalled jack advance immediately. In addition to that, he also lets the unit charge and see through each other and lets them choose the damage column when they attack Warjacks or Warbeasts, thus being able to cripple critical systems or remove the ability to gain focus or fury. And that is just the Officer. They themselves have a decent MAT that lets them reliably hit non-elite units and most jacks or beasts easily. Their namesake swords have a decent POW that can kill most infantry on average rolls, but more importantly they can choose to deal an automatic point of damage to enemy beasts and jacks instead of rolling damage, making even the heaviest armour redundant. Combined with being able to choose the damage column, this means that you can take out key systems reliably. Furthermore, they have spent centuries training together with Warjacks, so they gain a small Flank bonus to attacks and an extra damage dice if attacking a model that is in melee reach of a friendly Warjack. And if you have paid attention, you remember that I mentioned Positive Charge when discussing Stryker. And here both the spell and the Sword Knights come on their own. If they are in 2″ of a Warjack with Positive Charge and attacking a model in its reach, they have a MAT of 10 and deal 12+3d6 damage (12+4d6 on the charge) per hit. And all this from the cheap cannon fodder. Defensively, they are also quite hard, as they gain an ARM boost if in base-to-base with another Sword Knight, that can be stacked with Arcane Shield and Deflection, making them immune to most light shooting.
Stormclad: The Stormclad is another heavy Warjack, but he is not part of Stryker’s battle group but marshalled by the Sword Knights. It is an excellent jack, though slightly slow. But as it is marshalled by the Sword Knights, their Pronto drive actually makes it one of the fastest heavy Warjacks in the game. It also has Reach on its Generator Blade, so it creates a wider range for the Sword Knights’ Flank ability. In the fluff, the Stormclads were built to supplement the Stormblade Infantry and this is represented by giving it a Focus point if it activates in 3″ of a Stormblade Infantry model. If Strangewayes activates first to give it a focus, then it activates within 3″ of a Stormblade model and in command range of its jack marshal, it can gain a virtual three focus without the need for Stryker to actually spend points himself. As efficiently using focus points is key to winning the game, having a jack gain three free focus per round is a veritable godsend. But it is not only just an efficient focus user, but it is also quite tough and is tied with Ol’ Rowdy as the hardest-hitting non-colossal warjack in the Cygnaran army, whilst still having the high MAT that Cygnaran warjacks typically boast.
Rhupert Carvolo, Piper of Ord: Being able to play a jaunty tune can come in handy on the battlefields of the Iron Kingdoms, at least for Rhupert. He typically grants Fearless and Tough (a 5+ save) to either the Stormblades or the Sword Knights to make them even harder to deal with, but he can also help the Sword Knights charge through terrain thanks to Pathfinder or give them a small bonus to their DEF and make them cause Terror in case they encounter low MAT or low CMD enemies. As he is not attached to a unit and can aid any unit in his command range, he is flexible and thus always able to have a positive effect on your units.
Madelyn Corbeau, Ordic Courtesan: The finest lady of the evening in the Iron Kingdoms can be used to grant a CMD bonus to a Warcaster or Solo in contact with it, but nobody ever uses that ability it seems. However, she also has some other tricks hidden up her corset. As an action, she can seduce an enemy model (though not a Warcaster or Warlock) in base-to-base, having it make an advance followed by a melee attack. So she can move a special weapon trooper out of position and hit another key model, use a solo to assassinate another one or just in general create a gap by moving one enemy model and potentially killing another one. As you control the model for the duration of the action, you can also choose its orientation after the movement, thus setting up backstrikes against the target in addition to taking out another model. But that is still not why you take her. If an enemy model is in 9″ of her during your maintenance phase at the beginning of the turn, you can move one of your non-warjack models in 9″ of her by 3″. This lets you set up assassination runs with Stryker, giving him a 20″ threat range, but it can also be used to move Arlan Strangewayes closer to a warjack to let him repair it, get a model out of the way of another model that wishes to charge, get the Journeyman closer to a unit to drop Arcane Shield on them, turn a model around to get line of sight and thus allow a charge and so on. Like Rhupert, she is a 2-points toolbox, but whilst Rhupert augments a unit’s defensive abilities, she increases the manoeuvrability of the people around her.
Tomorrow, I am going to finally get to play the Protectorate of Menoth and maybe another army, so I will see how Stryker and Caine perform.