Hordes All Stars – Offensive Infantry Pt. 2

Continuing our ongoing introduction to “things that you should probably/maybe be aware of as a new Warmachine/Hordes player”, we’ll be giving a quick overview of the all-star infantry for Skorne, Legion of Everblight, and Minions.

Skorne – Nihilators
Nihilators are a fairly simple unit all-things-told.  They don’t have a lot of special rules, but the ones they do have make them work.  They’re quick at SPD 6 and have Reach, giving them a pretty fair threat range of 11″ on the charge.  They have MAT 7, making them pretty accurate, have P+S 12 swords, giving them some fair damage potential, and have Berserk, which makes them pretty fantastic at killing infantry.  With Tough and Fearless, they’re also fairly reliable in terms of survivability.
On the surface, Nihilators appear to be an anti-infantry threat, but anyone who has played with or against Skorne is most likely aware of the wealth of benefits the faction can offer a unit like Nihilators that can make them more than infantry dispatchers.  Increasing their threat range and mobility is pretty easy stuff for Skorne with anytime-access to the Tyrant Commander for additional SPD, Pathfinder, or the ability to stand up without penalty after a successful Tough check.  Several Skorne warlocks also have movement buffs, like Hexeris 1’s Vengeance move from Death March, Makeda 1’s Savagery, or Makeda 2’s Road to War.  Even without incredible hitting power, buffs to movement like the above can allow Nihilators to strike deep at softer targets, leaving their opponent with a sea of Berserking swordsmen in their lines.
For increasing their accuracy, there are several promising options again, like Makeda 1’s Carnage, Makeda 2’s feat, Hexeris 1’s Death March, Hexeris 2’s Black Spot, Zaal’s Last Stand and feat, and Rasheth’s Carnivore.  At a base MAT 7 with Berserk, stacking any of the above accuracy buffs will turn a unit of Nihilators into an infantry blender capable of taking anything apart that isn’t boasting stratospherically-high DEF stats.  
For increasing their damage, Skorne have a couple of things that anyone should be aware of.  P+S 12 isn’t bad for melee damage output on an infantry unit, but it’s not great either.  Effectively increasing that value by two or three will start to make Nihilators a threat not only to infantry and light-to-medium-ARM, multi-wound targets, but heavy warbeasts and warjacks as well.  One of the lesser increasers is Rasheth’s Blood Mark, but the buffs to really look out for are Xerxis’s Fury and feat and Zaal’s Last Stand.  With Xerxis, combining Fury and his feat makes the unit a serious threat to anything that relies on heavy armor to survive, especially high-ARM, multi-wound infantry.  With four damage dice (five on the charge), Reach, and Berserk, a single Nihilator can cleave through an entire unit of Demo Corps.  Last Stand is also something to fear, as it adds an additional die to both attack and damage rolls, making single Nihilators pretty terrifying to most anything on the table that it can reach.  
Nihilators can also be buffed for survivability fairly well, too, be it through Defender’s Ward, Iron Flesh, or Revive.  The Basilisk Krea can also buff the DEF and ARM values of nearby models with her Paralytic Aura.
Killing Nihilators will largely depend on what warlock they’re being run with.  Defender’s Ward will bump their DEF and ARM up to 15, making them pretty strong against both direct fire and AOEs.  If you can debuff their DEF, bring super-accurate direct ranged attacks (shots under Dead Eye, For the Motherland, etc.), or set them on fire with Reckoners or Ravagores, you’ll go a long way towards beating them with ranged supremacy.  The big problem really comes when Defender’s Ward and Paralytic Aura are stacked, making them effectively DEF/ARM 17 against shooting, in which case only a few ranged options will take them out with regularity (Gun Mages w/ Mark Target, Dead Eye, fire-causing AOEs, etc.).  If those options aren’t present, look to auto-hitting, bounced spell effects like Chain Lightning.  
If your opponent is running Naaresh and puts Iron Flesh on them, AOE attacks, attacks that cause fire, and bounced spell effects will be solid options for taking the unit out.  If you see Mordikaar, do your best to wipe out the entire unit if given the chance, as Revive can be used to bring back models in the unit, chaining them deeper into your lines and into ideal positions to wreak the most havoc.  
If the Skorne player isn’t running a warlock with accuracy buffs like Xerxis, Mordikaar, Naaresh, or either Morghoul, jamming a unit of Nihilators with high-DEF infantry can work.

Legion of Everblight – Striders, Strider Officer and Musician, and Strider Deathstalker

The base Strider unit is simply a fast-response, ranged skirmishing module.  They are highly mobile with their SPD 7, Pathfinder, and Advance Deployment, they have Stealth for ranged protection, an average RAT 6, and RNG 12, POW 10 Longbows with Combined Ranged Attack.  They’re about everything that you’d expect from a unit like this.  Advance Deployment is pretty welcome, as it will not only help to get the unit placed near an ideal target for them to attack, but it will also help the user to keep them away from potential threats to the unit as well.
What really makes the Striders hum is their unit attachment, which gives them three very solid abilities in addition to the two able attackers that they add to the unit.  The first ability is Tactics: Hunter, which allows the unit to ignore forests, concealment, and cover when determining LOS or making a ranged attack.  Hunter is a very punishing ability for models that rely on those named benefits to survive, making the popularity of Striders yet another reason that Trencher Infantry are so seldom fielded.  Widowmakers in a forest will not only be completely ineffective at killing Striders thanks to Stealth, but they’ll also get shot to pieces by paired, effective RAT 8 CRAs since they won’t be able to rely Camouflage to crank their DEF values above their base 14.  Mind that abilities with the “Tactics” tag can be removed if the providing model, the Officer in this case, is killed.
The second ability that the unit attachment provides is Granted: Reform, which allows each model in the unit to move 3″ after their combat action, an ideal ability for repositioning after an attack, letting them disappear 3″ into a forest, spread out to avoid blast damage, or back off to stay away from closing melee forces.  
The third ability that the unit attachment provides is In Step via the Musician, which effectively makes the unit CMD 11 when determining command range, allowing the Strider unit to spread out and cover enormous sections of the board.  
The Strider Deathstalker is the third piece of the puzzle here.  Functionally, it’s pretty much a Strider solo with Sniper for auto-killing single-wound models, Snap Fire for getting a second attack if the first one destroys its target, and Swift Hunter for allowing the Deathstalker to reposition 2″ every time it kills an enemy model.  Deathstalkers will additionally provide Swift Hunter to other Strider models in its 9″ command range.  Stacked with Reform, this allows Striders that destroyed their target to get a combined advance of 5″ after their combat action, further increasing their status as fantastic ranged skirmishers.  Mind that models participating in a Combined Ranged Attack that were not the actual attacking model will not benefit from Reform, only the source of the attack.
Like Arcane Tempest Gun Mages and Tharn Bloodtrackers, Deathstalkers have high DEF values and very low ARM values, making them extremely vulnerable to AOE attacks, yet again making models like Redeemers, Winterguard Mortar Crews, Stormfall Archer Corps, Dire Troll Bombers, and even the humble Venator Catapult valuable things to have around.  If you can engage them in melee, they’ll be robbed of their ability to hit-and-run, but doing so will be difficult seeing as how slippery they are.  While Hunter does ignore a wide range of DEF buffs against ranged attacks, it doesn’t ignore Stealth, so models with that benefit will find some respite when dealing with Striders, but unfortunately, not their warbeasts thanks to Eyeless Sight.  Bounced effects like Electro Leap, Lightning Generator, Chain Lightning, Admonisher, or Ashes to Ashes are also handy here.

Minions – Gatormen Posse

The Gatormen Posse are a solid unit and a welcome addition to any faction army.  With ARM 16, Unyielding to give them +2 ARM while they are engaging an enemy model, and 8 wounds, they can act as a speed bump just on their defensive virtues alone.  They also have a pair of P+S 13 attacks (one with Reach, one without), and MAT 7.  They have the Blood Thirst rule, which gives the unit an additional 2″ of movement when charging a living model, giving them a 12″ threat range against anything with a pulse.  They also have a three effects to choose from each turn: Dirge of Mists, Killers, and March.  Players familiar with Rhupert Carvolo will recognize Dirge of Mists as providing the unit with +1 DEF and Terror, helping to increase the unit’s viability as a speed bump as well as surviving until first contact with the enemy.  Killers allows the unit to reroll attack rolls against living models.  Stacked with their solid MAT 7 and paired melee attacks, they become extremely accurate when attacking such targets.  March gives the unit Pathfinder, always a welcome option on a forward melee unit when terrain becomes an issue.
While P+S 13 isn’t exactly sending people fleeing in terror, there are a wealth of benefits that can increase their damage output, be it ARM debuffs like Parasite from Lylylth 1 or Calaban, Fury from Xerxis, Blood Fury from Madrak 2, Calamity from Grissel 1, or Pain Driver from the Paingiver Taskmaster, all of which will help the Posse increase their effectiveness against high-ARM targets like warjacks or warbeasts.
Where infantry are concerned, a Gatormen Posse is pretty solid without help.  With MAT 7, two melee attacks per-model, Blood Thirst for additional threat range, and Killers to make them super-accurate, a Gatormen Posse will tear most single-wound units to pieces.  
If you can manage to get a Gatormen Posse stuck-in, spells like Iron Flesh will make dealing with the unit that much more difficult.  With Dirge of Mists, Iron Flesh, and Unyielding together, your opponent will have have to cut through a DEF 16, ARM 18, 8-wound unit that causes Terror, which can be a problem for most any build that doesn’t have quick-and-easy upkeep removal like Purification.
The key to dealing with Gatormen Posses is to keep them at a distance and kill them before they can close on your front line.  If they’re not engaging enemy models, they’re only ARM 16, making them vulnerable to strong ranged attacks like CRAs or attacks with boosted damage rolls.  Otherwise tie them up with a more effective road blocks like Cetrati, Man-O-War Shocktroopers, Kayazi Assassins with Iron Flesh, or Boomhowler and Co.  If they do manage to close, remember that knocked down models will not benefit from Unyielding, so careful application of abilities or spells like Tremor, Quake, Rock Hammer, or Earth Spikes can not only help to pull your troops out of combat, but leave the Posse more vulnerable thanks to denial of Unyielding.

That closes out our study on Offensive infantry All Stars for Warmachine and Hordes!  Keep an eye out for the next part of the All Stars series: Warjacks!

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