Today (actually two weeks ago but we had a bit of a COVID-19 scare at home so while we are all fine, I didn´t have any time to write it up before now) I am going to field two of the recently upgraded Battlebox casters: Malekus, the Burning Truth vs Major Beth Maddox. I didn´t really try to design optimal lists, just lists that looked good and matched a general idea of what I would run with them. As such the lists will evolve over the weeks to come, but look good as a starting point.
For Malekus, I decided to go with some fire damage in the battlegroup, which would of course be spearheaded by Eye of Truth. To get the most out of his Ashen Veil aura, I would field him with a mix of Temple Flameguard to be a solid anvil and Flame Bringers to serve as the hammer.
Malekus, the Burning Truth + 30
- Eye of Truth: 20
- Revenger: 8
- Revenger: 8
Pyrrhus, Flameguard Hero: 0 (5)
Nicia, Tear of Vengeance: 0 (5)
Hand of Silence: 7
Vassal of Menoth: 3
Choir of Menoth (min): 4
Temple Flameguard (max): 11
- Officer & Standard: 0 (4)
Temple Flameguard (max): 11
- Officer & Standard: 4
Flame Bringers (max): 17
Flame Bringers (min): 11
(Guardians of the Temple)
Maddox was easier to design a list for, as she still appears to be shoehorned into the Storm Division theme. So she got the mandatory Storm Lances, a Journeyman to get the second armour buff and two decent warjacks to back them up.
Major Beth Maddox + 30
- Squire: 0 (5)
- Brickhouse: 18
- Ironclad: 12
Journeyman Warcaster: 4
- Firefly: 8
Major Katherine Laddermore: 8
Ser Dreyfus, the Storm Knight: 0 (5)
Storm Lances (max): 20
Storm Lances (max): 20
Stormblade Infantry: 9
- Officer & Standard: 0 (5)
- 3 Storm Gunners: 6
Malekus wins the roll-off and decides to go first as Maddox wants time to put down her upkeeps, so the faster Malekus can commit, the less time she has to up them all out.
The Flameguard provide a central anchor, while the Flame Bringers try to nip around the flanks.
The forces of Cygnar deploy around a strong centre, with Storm Lances on both flanks.
The field from the side.
Malekus puts Banishing Ward on himself and Ignite on the larger unit of Flame Bringers. He also puts up Ashen Veil on all friendly models in his control range.
The Menite forces run up, but ensure that all units stay within range of Malekus´s aura.
Maddox puts Snipe on the Stormblades, Assail on Brickhouse and Dauntless Resolve on the Storm Lances on the left.
The Journeyman, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, drops Arcane Shield on the other unit of Storm Lances.
The forces of Cygnar push forward, but only 4 Storm Lances actually move into threat range of the Menite forces. Either they commit significant resources to kill models that are DEF 13 and ARM 22 or the Lances can push deeply in their lines.
Malekus keeps up Ignite but drops Banishing Ward, arguing that neither the Journeyman nor Maddox have the potential to kill him with spells. The left Flame Bringers, who currently have Ignite on them, charge into the Storm Lances and thanks to having Parry, some of them can even charge past the frontline Lances. They kill three Lances and set a fourth on fire.
The Choir sing Passage to the warjacks to stop the Cygnarans from using their not inconsiderable firepower to shoot them off the table. The Vassal also puts a Focus on Eye of Truth in case it needs to absorb a hit with its Oracular Visions ability. It also shoots at a Storm Lance and sets it on fire, but fails to kill it.
Malekus then switches Ignite over to the other side. Only one Flame Bringer can charge a Storm Lances, but she easily kills him. My dice are admittedly on fire at this stage of the game. Both units of Temple Flameguard advance in Shield Guard formation and pop their mini-feats. Hand of Silence and Malekus move up centrally. Malekus uses Fable of Ashes again to give everyone Ashen Veil.
Maddox allocates two to Brickhouse and pays two to upkeep Snipe and Dauntless Resolve. She moves up a bit, then uses her feat. Can you feel the excitement? In fact, she might even have shot at a Flameguard, but predictably missed the DEF 15 trooper.
The Ironclad swiftly puts the Flame Bringer in front of it in the ground to open more space for the Storm Lances.
Ser Dreyfus leaps over the Firefly and thanks to Flank (Storm Knight), he drops both Flame Bringers tying them up.
The two remaining Lances on the right charge in, one managing to kill the last two Flame Bringers on that flank with Impact hits. Their Assault shots do little and some cheeky 5s and 6s for the Flameguard´s Tough checks mean that they end up killing only one TFG.
On the other flank, the Storm Lances try to open a gap for Brickhouse, but they are also thwarted by Tough rolls, leaving one Temple Flameguard in the charge lane alive. They need to take multiple Free Strikes to get out the way themselves, but their high armour saves them from the worst of it, even for the rolls without the ARM bonus from Dauntless Resolve due to Eye of Truth´s aura.
This means that the Stormblades have to advance more slowly to let the Storm Gunners stand still to aim. Fortunately, one of them rolls the 8 to hit the Flameguard that is blocking the charge lane and kills him. Brickhouse can thus charge Eye of Truth, but due to Oracular Visions on the charge roll and an unlucky double one to hit, Eye of Truth actually hangs in there on 7 boxes, though without Cortex or Shield, so it wouldn´t be able to pull the Oracular Visions trick again.
Cygnar scores one with Laddermore on the flag, all other elements are contested.
Maddox 1 – Malekus 0
Malekus upkeeps Ignite, activates first and uses his feat. He also uses Verse of Cinders to get a free spell to cast Brand of Fire on the Firefly, setting Laddermore and a Storm Lance on Fire. He then aims and uses his flamethrower to kill another Storm Lance and unhorse Laddermore. Finally, he uses Open Fire on Eye of Truth to have it land a hit on Brickhouse.
The Choir sang Battle before Malekus activated, come to think of it, and the Revenger on the right moves around the Storm Lance, taking a free strike that does little damage, but kills a Standard Bearer with the Electro Leap. The Revenger can however shoot now and kills a couple of Stormblades and the Storm Lance that repositioned out of melee last turn.
Hand of Silence rides into the gap Malekus opened with his flamer and then uses his soul tokens to boost the to hit rolls on three Stormblades, killing them too.
The Flameguard on both sides flails ineffectually at Storm Lances, only managing to set a couple on fire but generally failing to break armour. They do maintain their Shield Wall formations. The Flame Bringers are more efficient, killing another Storm Lance. Eye of Truth shows that even without Focus, it can deal a lot of damage and it takes out most of Brickhouse´s boxes. Nicia charges over the Flameguard and finishes Brickhouse off, then Sprints back to the flag.
Nicia scores her flag and the other flag is contested by the Temple Flameguard.
Malekus 1 – Maddox 1
Maddox dies in a fire.
The Journeyman very cheekily takes aim, boosts the hit and damage roll and summarily executes Hand of Silence. Another notch in her belt.
The Stormblades charge and kill the last Flame Bringers, a Flameguard and the left Revenger.
The Ironclad, which Maddox brought to full Focus, charges the Revenger and unceremonially flattens it. It now stands right next to Malekus, who regrets some of his life choices. Dreyfus kills another Flameguard, but Tough saves the second one.
The Storm Lances finally have the measure of the Temple Flameguard and kill three of them.
Maddox kills the Flameguard Officer with an Electric Blast, but the unit leader next to him passes his Tough check. However, that lets her shot him with a Storm Strike that then leaps into Nicia and kills her too.
The Squire runs to the right flag to score a point.
Maddox 2 – Malekus 1
With an Ironclad sitting next to him and his force consisting of nothing but a severely damaged Eye of Truth and Temple Flameguard that are good at tanking hits, but terrible at dealing damage, Malekus decides that he needs to assassinate Maddox now or die. So Eye of Truth marches up and kills a Stormblade model to open line of sight to Maddox. Malekus then moves up, uses Verse of Cinders to cast a free boosted Scourge on Maddox to knock her down, then shoots her with his flamethrower, boosting both rolls. He then tries to finish her off with Brand of Fire, but thanks to her remaining Focus, she stays alive on two boxes.
The Menites move over to contest the flag the Squire sits on, while the Vassal moves over to control the other flag.
Malekus 2 – Maddox 2
In the Maintenance Phase, Maddox rolls a six for her fire check and then a one five on her fire damage roll …
… so she dies!
ASSASSINATION WIN FOR THE PROTECTORATE!
I actually liked the changes to both casters.
Maddox still does what she does best, buffing things and not much else. She is reasonably tough with DEF 15 and ARM 16, with the potential to get to ARM 19 with Dauntless Resolve and an another +2 ARM if she is in melee. However, she still dies easily enough when shot at or having spells cast at her, nor does her statline protect her against really strong beaters like heavies. Resourceful is also less powerful on a caster that usually puts out two upkeeps on units rather than on her battlegroup models on herself. She is strong, but I am still not seeing me reach for her over Stryker2, to name but one. Maybe if the next Steamroller increases terrain density or more factions get access to terrain placement, this might change, but not as is.
Malekus performed well enough, being able to contribute each turn with his spells and ranged weapon. Moreover, being able to create a control-range-wide area of Ashen Veil makes him support armies with average to above average DEF fairly well. However, it looks to me as if Temple Flameguard are not necessarily what he is looking for, as even Ignite does not enable them to kill heavily armoured units reliably. Maybe he is better in Faithful Masses, but then again, what isn´t?