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March 21, 2013

Warmachine: Vyros, Interview with Will Pagani, and Video Battle Report

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Back in November, I stumbled upon a thread on Privateer Press's forums that caught my attention.  Will Pagani, aka skillt, authored a post discussing an Epic Vyros list that was such an incredible departure from the norm of Retribution lists that I couldn't look away.  

Vyros, Incissar of the Dawnguard (*5pts)
* Aspis (4pts)
* Aspis (4pts)
* Griffon (4pts)
* Griffon (4pts)
* Griffon (4pts)
* Griffon (4pts)
* Griffon (4pts)
* Griffon (4pts)
* Griffon (4pts)
* Sylys Wyshnalyrr, the Seeker (2pts)
Dawnguard Invictors (Leader and 9 Grunts) (10pts)
* Dawnguard Invictor Officer & Standard (2pts)
* Soulless Escort (1pts)
Arcanist (1pts)
Arcanist (1pts)
Lanyssa Ryssyll, Nyss Sorceress (2pts)

Having met Will just this past June at WARGames Con in addition to being a regular listener to his podcast, Road to War, I was well aware of his tactical acumen.  Hell, I distinctly recall people lining up to lose to his Harkevich/Double Conquest army that first night of the convention like he had been playing Street Fighter 2 at the local arcade on the same quarter for hours.

Anyway, I just had to play that list.  Having been dabbling in Retribution for the past several months, it was completely unlike any other Retribution list I had built, and just looked like a lot of fun.  So, I purchased the six extra Griffons and the second Aspis that I would need to play it and took to the table. I enjoyed it so much, that I decided to write an article on it, but I would be remiss in not trying to involve the man behind the list itself, so I reached out to Will to discuss his list a little bit.

The Interview

BoLS: Can you give us the quick Will Pagani rundown, nerd-credentials and all?  

Will: I started playing Warmachine in 2004 with Cryx. I played around Houston at several stores and won a multitude of local events. I really started traveling for Warmachine in 2006 where I attended Gencon and several smaller events down in the south, such as Bayou Wars in New Orleans.  In 2008, I opened Asgard Games to share my love of gaming with everyone, and have been very successful with my endeavor. 

In 2011, the community from Asgard Games started to travel. The first convention we attended was Templecon 2011 where we put three people into the Masters Tournament. That year I attended many major conventions and placed highly in all that I attended. I got 4th place at Adepticon Masters, won Lock and Load Masters, took 2nd at Gencon Masters, took 4th at the Warmachine Weekend Invitational, and won the Warmachine Weekend Warlord Honor, which is the highest ranking in all tournaments combined.  In 2012, my store moved locations, which took a lot of time out of my Warmachine practice, and my standings showed this. I received 2nd place at Templecon Masters and won Mage Hunter and Vanquisher in Hardcore at Lock and Load. I was in the first wave to qualify to be an Official Judge for Privateer Press, and have been selected to be on the American team for the World Team Championship in 2013.

UPDATE - Since the time of this interview, Will also won the Mayhem Cup, a large, regional tournament held in the midwest.

BoLS - Tell us about how your Vyros, Intercessor of the Dawnguard list came about.  It's not hard to see it as being somewhat absurd at first-glance.  How did you develop it?

Will: This list had a very interesting conception. It really happened at Duelcon 2012 where Jason Flanzer, Jake VanMeter, and myself were talking about Retribution lists and how to properly balance out a very strong Ossyan list that MattieK (of had come up with. We started discussing Vyros2 and how to build a list that can not only give Lylyth2 a run for her money, but also how to not make it a ranged- or spell-dependent list. Ossyan will smash about any list that isn’t built for anti-ranged, making his a very versatile list to have. We all knew Synergy was the key spell to Vyros2 and had a pretty good idea on how to make it work. We started with just a few Griffons, maybe three, and some Sphinxes for a higher base POW and more durability. It turned out after some hardcore-dojo work that we all agreed that more Griffons were probably better than Sphinxes. And thus, the first incarnation of the list was born. 

After returning to Houston, I started testing. It went through five or so iterations of combinations of Griffons and Aspis. It turns out that Reach, Pathfinder and Powerful Charge are all amazing rules to have. During those iterations I also used several units of infantry.  We, the Asgard Meta, tried Halberdiers, Sentinels, the Mage Hunter Strike Force, and finally ended up on Invictors. Invictors with seven light warjacks with Reach in your list may as well be MAT9, POW10 Weapon Masters.  They also bring highly accurate, high-powered shooting to a list with no way to clear tarpits. We didn't want a shooting-focused list, that was for Ossyan, but Invictors allowed the clearing of charge lanes with great consistency, were durable when you needed them to be, were easy to kill when you needed them to be (for the purpose of triggering Vyros2's feat), and brought a huge amount of accurate attacks to clear jams or charge lanes via melee or ranged. The rest of the list is filled in with the support required for the list to function, including Lanyssa. The threat range she brings to Griffons is huge.  Couple that with her free charge for increased focus efficiency, and her inclusion is a no-brainer. 

BoLS:  What are the strengths and weaknesses of the list?

Will:  The list is very dynamic. It comes from every direction and it hits like a freight train. Its biggest strength is the consistency with which you can get Synergy up to at least a +4 bonus to melee attack and damage rolls on almost any given turn before sending in your “primary” Griffon. This is the Griffon that will do the heavy lifting. With four Synergy and Concentrated Power from an Arcanist, that little guy is P+S 19. Slap three focus on him and Hunter’s Mark on his target, and he hits as hard as a Reckoner with a free charge from 1” farther out and with Pathfinder, all for four points. The list tar pits extremely well because you have a minimum unit of 25+ HP warjacks that are all very accurate in melee (due to boosts or Synergy for later activating), and any single one can kill a heavy or their caster if you can clear the jam. The list is rather simple to play at a basic level, but when you factor in the feat and scenarios it can get rather tricky. How to keep Vyros2 safe while dominating zones is one of the harder parts of the list, especially against things like Lylyth2, Caine2, etc.  A lot of this actually comes from getting one of your Griffons killed in the back of the zone. If you can accomplish this (hopefully your opponent will be so kind), you can hang out in the wreck marker with Vyros2 gaining Cover and while being escorted by your two Aspis for Shield Guards, making Vyros2 very difficult to kill. 

The weaknesses of the list mostly come out against very hard hitting infantry swarms: lists like Madrak2, Cryx in general, Doomreavers, etc. You cannot really kill enough of them, and everything those lists want to see, you brought. Low-DEF, high-ARM warjacks do not do well against Weapon Master infantry. It's also sub-optimal against the super-shooting assassination armies, but as described above there are ways to help with that.

BoLS: Do you have a list that you like to pair it with for tournament play?

Will: I personally paired it with Ossyan.  He supplies a heavy ranged element while also providing a way to kill Colossals. Ossyan has an excellent match-up against Cygnar and Menoth, does alright against Cryx and Khador, and plays well against Trolls and Skorne. Vyros2 answers a lot of Ossyan's bad matches favorably and vice-versa. Vyros2 matches well against Menoth, Trolls, Skorne, Circle. He is average against Khador and Legion.  This is the list I take:

Lord Arcanist Ossyan (*6pts)
* Banshee (10pts)
Arcantrik Force Generator (10pts)
Houseguard Halberdiers (Leader and 9 Grunts) (7pts)
* Houseguard Halberdiers Officer & Standard (2pts)
* Soulless Escort (1pts)
Lady Aiyana & Master Holt (4pts)
Mage Hunter Strikeforce (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Mage Hunter Commander (2pts)
Stormfall Archers (Leader and 3 Grunts) (5pts)
Stormfall Archers (Leader and 3 Grunts) (5pts)
Arcanist (1pts)
Arcanist (1pts)

Battle Reports

I managed to record a game with this list against Harkevich.

My execution was good in this game.  I felt that my positioning worked out despite having to deal with some difficult terrain for the Invictors, which was largely saved by me not having to commit my forces on turn two so that I could cast Easy Rider.  The Aspis proved to be a vital tool in securing a scenario victory and my Griffins boasted some pretty fantastic damage output from Synergy, getting all the way up to an effective MAT 11, P+S 20 at one point.

My other game didn't fair quite so well.  Put simply, I did the exact thing that Will warned to be careful of: over-exposed when dominating and messed up the feat.

If you're a Retribution player looking for a departure from your usual lists, give this one a try.  If you're not thrilled about the idea of shelling out the cash for all those Griffins, then proxy it first or wait for it to come out in plastic for $3 cheaper in May.  A big thanks to Will for talking to us.
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