Since its so easy to lose track of what all the warlocks out there can do, I’m going to offer up a quick analysis of the kind of tricks you can expect from this new pack to help make sure you’re ready when they show up across the table from you. There’s one big thing these guys all have in common outside their Fury scores of 6. They all like to bring the fight to the enemy themselves. Whether through blade, claw, or bullet, this new batch of warlocks won’t be content to sit in the back and let their armies do all of the fighting.
Lets begin with Jarl Skuld, Devil of the Thornwood. With the twin Rune Pistols he wields, its not surprising that as soon as he was previewed people were calling him “Troll Caine.” You could do worse than to think of him that way, since just like the Cygnaran Warcaster he can deliver some pretty decent ranged death. But making that gross oversimplification could put you into a lot of trouble if you see this guy across the table from you. While the “shooty” persona is amplified with the Black Penny ability which lets you ignore the penalty for firing into melee, he has some other great tricks which you might end up finding even more nasty. The Swift Hunter ability can help keep him safe after shooting, and Evasive will make your opponents think twice about going after him without a really solid assassination plan.
Looking at his spells, the first one that stands out to me as a Troll player is Quicken. With their Officer and Drummer UA, Trollkin Fennblades already had a well deserved reputation for getting in their opponents face in a hurry. Now with Quicken their threat range goes up from 13 to 15 inches. The +2 def Quicken offers will also bring them up to def 14 against ranged and magic which you can stack with a concealment bonus from the Stone Scribe Chronicler to make them almost un-hittable at range. Tactical Supremacy will help another friendly model/unit keep pace or retreat to safety by advancing 3″ at the end of the Trollblood players’ turn. Weald Secrets will give a unit Camouflage and Pathfinder; meaning with a Fell Caller you can have up to two units that can move through difficult terrain without penalty. Finally there’s Magic Bullet. Cast this spell on a friendly faction model and if that model hits with a ranged attack, you can hit another enemy model within 4″ with an un-boostable Pow 12 magic damage roll. The un-boostable part really makes it difficult to do any kind of fancy assassination tricks with this spell, except maybe against the flimsiest of casters. But it will let you circumvent line of sight, engaging models, and stealth to get at otherwise inaccessible enemy solos and officers. And it might be enough to finish off a warcaster or warlock you’ve already put the hurt on.
His feat creates D3+3 4″ Cloud Effects that grant Pathfinder to friendly models in them, and inflict a -2 penalty to enemy living model’s attack rolls. Great to help protect those Fennblades right after they’ve hit the enemy lines.
Lets move on to Naaresh. Like Khador-favorite Vlad the Dark Champion, this guy will fight better once he’s been injured. The big difference here is that this guy will get his bonuses even if its friendly models that have been the ones doing the injuring. Whenever he’s damaged he’ll get a blood token; each one adding one point to his STR and ARM. So expect to see this guy followed around by a retinue of Paingiver Beast Handlers who will each be able to put at least a point of damage on the Warlock, hitting automatically due to his peculiar Flagellant ability. If he maxes out at five tokens, Naaresh will boast an impressive ARM 20, and be hitting at P+S 15 with each of his Kataras. And he can always make a P+S 19 Combo Strike if that’s what suits him. Since he does want to get up close and personal, a Cyclops Brute seems like a good investment for him with its animus granting immunity to Knockdown.
His spell list definitely seems to suit his playstyle and his character. Bleed helps him heal the damage he’s suffered. Iron Flesh seems to suit a guy who thrives on pain and injury. And there’s something about Lamentation that just feels like it suits a “Master Ascetic.” But I think all of these spells are just there to help him stay alive and get close enough to use Cyclone, make a free 6″ advance, and get into melee with an enemy warcaster/warlock. If he wants to make sure he can do the job when he gets there he’ll probably be bringing along a Basilisk Krea for the Paralytic Aura animus. A Tyrant Commander and Standard is also recommended for their Press Forward ability. While it won’t add any threat to his charge range, it will give him +2 inches of SPD during his Cyclone advance. This will give him a nice healthy potential 15″ threat range. And if you still want more, there’s always Molik Karn with the Fate Walker Animus to let Naaresh make another full advance at the end of your turn.
His feat feels kind of similar to Cryx Warcaster Pirate Queen Skarre. He can do up to one point of damage to each of his warbeast’s aspects, giving them +1 to STR and ARM for each damaged aspect. For each damage point of damage he inflicts in this way he can heal one point. On those rare occasions that you have a beast with only one or less damage left in each of its aspects you can use this feat to kill it and reave its Fury. Its one of the few ways a player can actively kill his own beast and reave. Hard to set up, but if any faction can do it, its Skorne. And worth mentioning since a few more Fury on Naaresh could easily win you a game through assassination.
Now for The Circle of Orboros’ new champion. Grayle the Farstrider is set up to be the “Wolf” warlock; wolf in this case referring to the Wolves of Orboros unit choices rather than to Warp Wolves. Out of all the September warlocks, his abilities seem to suit his fluff the least. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t a very strong choice. While his Elite Cadre [Wolves of Orboros] ability gives that unit Hunter, his spells and abilities don’t strike me as being particularly well-suited to an entire army of them. This guy seems more like a real tricksy kind of warlock; one with lots of options who will always have some kind of unpredictable tricks to throw out there. With Sidestep and two initial melee attacks with his Hunting Blades, this guy can definitely take out infantry. And the Weapon Master ability will help put his damage output a fair bit higher than his P+S 10 suggests. Then when he’s through killing things, he can use Sprint to get back to safety. And since he’s got Stealth he doesn’t have to worry too much about enemy shooting or casting.
His spell list is where the real tricks start to come into play. First up is Awareness, which gives his Battlegroup 360 degree front arcs and lets them ignore intervening models, forests, and clouds for determining line of sight. We’ve only seen this spell in one place before: on Hierarch Severius. Honestly I was surprised to see a spell like this on a Warlock. Since Fury is so much more abundant than focus, Grayle can cast it and not have to worry about any ranged beasts he has lacking the resources they need to boost their attack and damage rolls. Since he also has the Gallows spell, I think the best option might be to bring along some Woldwardens for their Geomancy ability. Since they don’t even have to use their action to perform Geomancy, a Woldwarden can charge a friendly and cast Gallows for an astounding 18″ threat. If hit, their target will suffer a Pow 13 magic damage roll which the Woldwarden can then boost. Really this seems like his best trick. And since Gallows also drags an enemy model d6″ towards its point of origin, you could just use those Woldwardens to drag key pieces out of the way, and line Grayle or something else up for a charge through the gap. Grayle has Storm Rager which brings his above average melee abilities into the exceptional range, making him an excellent Assassin. But if you’re worried you won’t be able to get him there, Storm Rager is just an all around great spell for a faction with amazing solos like Wolf Lord Morraigh, the Tharn Ravager White Mane, or The Lord of the Feast. Its that last one that should really stick out to you. With Mat 10 and P+S 15 under Storm Rager, the Lord of the Feast will be able to create some real trouble if you can get some heart tokens on him before he goes in for an assassination. Finally Grayle has Wind Blast. While it can get rid of Cloud effects, the -3 penalty to RAT that this 5″ AoE will incur to models it touches is what you will probably be casting it for.
Darkest Night, Grayle’s feat, has a two-fold effect. First it grants Stealth. But if that wasn’t good enough for you, when a friendly Faction model benefiting from Darkest Night, kills an enemy model, a different friendly Faction model can then immediately advance up to 3.” Mix an extra, out of activation advance in with everything else I’ve already mentioned here, and you’ve got an army that will be able to attack from all sides and keep its opponents completely off balance.
Moving on to the Legion, we’ve got Kallus, Wrath of Everblight. This is another guy who wants to get in there and attack the enemy himself. With a reach weapon and the flame burst ability, this guy can set a whole enemy unit ablaze. He’ll also help other troops out with a whole array of warrior support abilities. He comes with a totally new ability, Unconquerable, which will give every Warrior model in his command range Unyielding.
Just like Grayle, this guy has at least one spell I was surprised to see on a warlock (particularly a Legion one): Dark Guidance. Seen before on Pirate Queen Skarre, this spell gives every single friendly Faction model in Kallus‘ control area an additional die on melee attack rolls. So Legion, a faction full of crazy beasts that can fly over an army to get to its juicy center, can now boost all of its melee attacks without having to force. Dark Guidance will also work great with Warmongers, who you can now pretty much guarantee will hack every single-wound model in their melee range into bite sized little pieces. Kallus also has Eruption, a nice little offensive spell that will deal a pow 14 to all models in its 3″ AoE. It also stays in play and will continue to deal pow 14’s to any model that enters or ends its activation inside the AoE. Great for board control. Next up is Flashing Blade; fantastic for a Warlock with reach. Cast it before moving to clear a charge lane for Kallus, or let him get to a more advantageous position without having to worry about Free Strikes. Finally there’s Ignite, which is simply great for anything that wants to be in melee. I like (well, hate really, since I don’t play Legion) the sound of it on an Angelius. Between this spell and Dark Guidance you now have a model with extreme threat density since it doesn’t really have to worry about boosting to hit or damage. Send it through an enemy army to a caster and that should pretty much be game over right there.
Finally its on to Kallus‘ feat. Host of Angels will let you replace any non Incubus warrior model destroyed by an enemy attack with… an Incubus. The initial model is removed from play, so no soul tokens for you Cryx players out there. Then, just to add a little gravy to that, all soulless warrior models get +2 Arm that round. Basically this works out to be a denial feat. No one’s going to want to make any Incubi if they don’t have to, so Kallus can be pretty confident that most of his Warrior models will survive his feat turn unscathed.
Finally we’ve got Maelok. This Undead gatorman boasts decent melee stats with MAT 7, P+S 12 and 3 initial attacks. He also has the Cull Soul ability and Spirit Eater on his Bite attack which can give him some extra fury to play with if he’s willing to risk putting himself in harm’s way. And just like all the other gators we’ve seen, he’s got Amphibious.
His spell list starts with Death Pact, which will give +2 ARM, and the Undead ability to a friendly model or unit. While its tempting to put it on a unit of Gatormen, its worth considering Maelok himself as a target. For a guy who wants to be so close to the action, Maelok‘s ARM stat is a little on the low end at 17. But stack Death Pact with the Spiny Growth animus from a Bull Snapper, and now you’ve got a DEF 14 ARM 21 warlock that’s going to be a real pain to get rid of. Unfortunately Death Pact does have another very good spell competing for its attention with Malediction. This spell will improve Maelok‘s fighting ability tremendously by inflicting a -2 penalty to DEF and ARM on any enemy within 2″ of him. This will make Maelok himself an enemy to be feared, but will also help your P+S 17 Wrasslers deal with really hard targets. Up next is Revive, which will let you return a destroyed friendly faction grunt to play in coherency in Maelok‘s command. While they will only return with one damage box in play, this spell is still amazing as it will let you place a Gatorman behind an enemy unit allowing them to charge your opponent’s warcaster or warlock. Finally you have Venom, a nasty little offensive spell with RNG Spray. While it only hits at a POW 10, it does a point of corrosion to anything it hits making it very helpful against high arm infantry. Still out of all Maelok’s spells I think this one adds the least. If he’s close enough to use it there’s a good chance he may have been better off charging. While its probably pointless to speculate, seeing Venom on this guy does have me wondering if Domination will reveal any cool spell assistance for the Blindwater Congregation. Maelok‘s No Quarter article does mention an element of “dark ritualistic magic” not seen as much in their playstyle so far. Consider my fingers crossed.
Maelok has a very strong feat that works really well with already established Blindwater tactics. Spirit World turns all friendly faction models incorporeal for one turn. I’m going to have to ask you to read that last word very carefully since I’ve already seen people talking about how its completely impossible to take out an army of incorporeal gators. This would only actually be an issue if the incorporeal part lasted for a round. But this is still a great feat since it works so well with the infamous gator toss. Get one of your Wrasslers to throw Maelok towards enemy lines and use the Rise animus on him. Now he’s just had 6″ added to his threat range and can charge through enemy models right into combat with an enemy warcaster or warlock. And if he’s upkept Malediction he’ll be swinging at an effective MAT 9, P+S 14. If he can’t finish the job send in the Totem Hunter or a Croak Hunter to help out. Getting line of sight will be the only tricky part. I recommend bringing Victor Pendrake to try to knock down any large intervening models, and an Ironback Spitter if you need to take down infantry. Spirit World will also give any friendly faction undead models +2 arm. Right now that’s just Maelok and anything he has Death Pact on. Again I find myself wondering what this might portend for Blindwater players. I’m looking at you Boneswarm.
~ Whew another long article. So did I miss anything? How has this new batch been working out for you folks? Has anyone warlock been working out particularly well for you? Or has there been one who’s just been beating your face in every time you’ve played against them?