Monday, August 10, 2009

You Were Warned: First Look at the Retribution

With the release of No Quarter #25 last month came the first previews for the Retribution of Scyrah, the new faction releasing with Warmachine Mk II in January. (Several models will release this year starting next month.) The other day I decided to proxy a few games using my favorite of the two warcasters previewed under the current rule set, Kaelyssa, Night's Whisper.

Looking at what I had available, making an army wasn't too difficult. The first thing I did was look at her stat line. Her speed, strength, and MAT are all on the average end. A RAT of 7 is pretty good for a warcaster (as this is only seen on ranged specialists such as Caine, who is actually an 8). As is typical for female warcasters, her defense is high but her armor is somewhat lacking, implying that she wants to hang onto her focus at times. Speaking of focus, her 7 in that stat is a godsend, and is only made better by her own abilities.

True Sight and ROF 3 on her Runespear Cannon go along with her high RAT at pointing out that she's very good at ranged combat. The POW 10 is somewhat a downer until you consider Energy Siphon. On a hit, she steals a focus/fury from the target (and in the case of fury, turns it into focus). This can be used to boost a damage roll (which she will need) or to buy the second or third shot. Because she does this on a hit, it means that the damage roll against a warcaster will be slightly more effective because that focus she stole is no longer overboosting that warcaster's power field, and against a warlock it's one less transfer. This means that she's a great assassin at range, and if she can't finish the job then her army probably will, as she will have weakened the enemy significantly. Note that her melee weapon also has Energy Siphon, but she's not the 'caster I would want tangled up in melee.

Her spell list also adds to her theme as a mage hunter. Putting Arcane Reckoning on a model gives that model the whiplash ability that eEiryss has, causing a missed spell to hit the model that cast the spell. Of currently known Retribution units, this spell is best cast on herself, pEiryss, or Narn. It can be cast on units, but the Invictors and Sentinels have too low DEF for this to be effective. I suspect that the Mage Hunter Strike Force would be good targets as well. Banishing Ward is a good spell for the low DEF models/units such as the Dawnguard or any of the myrmidons, causing them to be untargetable. This is especially useful against warcasters like Major Haley, and putting this spell on your Chimera or Phoenix could prevent your up-front arc node from being dominated or backfired. Phantom Hunter is a great spell to have upkept on herself, as this way she can attempt her assassination run while under the cover of her infantry as she no longer needs LOS to target. It also means that 'casters hiding behind their infantry aren't necessarily safe. This spell can go on one of her 'jacks as well, but I don't see it being as effective.

Kaelyssa's feat, which gives her army stealth and the inability to be charged, is decent defensively. It's best used early before your army gets tangled up in melee. It forces your opponent to either walk into melee with you (and if you're careful, you won't be close enough to have done that) or walk within 5" to shoot you, after which their army gets charged. There are lots of ways around this feat, though. Besides what has already been mentioned, this feat doesn't get around models that ignore stealth. (The Gun Mage Captain Adept and Grim Angus come to mind.) It also doesn't prevent slams, making this somewhat less useful against Hordes, who can declare slams just to get in there without an investment from the 'caster. (Tactical tip from Forces of Warmachine: Retribution of Scyrah reminds you that anything that prevents charges also prevents slams.) The two times I've proxied her I found that I was using this feat too late; this can be a very effective first-turn feat depending on what your opponent is using.

I played a couple games last week proxying Kaelyssa. Both were against the same Circle opponent using Kromac. First we played a 350. I used Kaelyssa controlling a Hydra and Chimera with 8 Dawnguard Invictors against Kromac, a Warpwolf and two Argus, Lord of the Feast, and Alten Ashley. I left Kromac short on fury for the first couple of turns, but by taking Beast Form he was able to get most of it back without too much damage. My Dawnguard got a bit too close as well, biting a lot from Lord of the Feast with Brutality. Luckily for me, my opponent decided to take Kromac back to Human Form, and Kaelyssa took a free strike at full focus to charge him, luckily killing him (as she was the only model I had remaining).

The second game was at 500, where I added two more Invictors, a Griffon which I marshaled to them, and the two mage hunter solos Eiryss and Narn. My opponent took out Alten and added a Woldwatcher, Lanyssa Ryssyl, and a unit of Druids. This game went a bit better for me, and while Counter Magic was up and I could not kill the Lord of the Feast for the life of me (since Narn couldn't hit to save his life), Kaelyssa was able to see Kromac with Phantom Hunter, remove his last fury on the hit to prevent him from Beasting Out, and managed to kill him with the other two shots. Had that failed, I would have ran the Griffon to engage and walked the two Invictors that could reach him into melee with their flank bonuses to finish him off.

So far, though, I like the Mage Hunter angle. Maybe this week I'll get some time in with Vyros to see how the Dawnguard work out. I'll report more on him later, but I'll probably bring at least a Phoenix and Griffon with him to work with Flank.