Find out which models for each faction make the perfect theme, and which break all the rules. Part 2 covers the North: Khador, Everblight, and Retribution.
Chalkboard here from Chalkboard War, with part two of the Faction Makers and Breakers series, where we explore what models best epitomize, and most differ from, the theme of each faction (you can check out part one here).
For every rule there is an exception, and in making this list I looked at both. For each faction, there are those models that utterly capture the spirit and gameplay mechanics of the force: those models that make Cryx tricky or make Menoth about denial. And likewise, it’s critical to recognize when certain models for forces break with that spirit. The unexpected surprise often comes from models that don’t function as the rest of the faction is expected to. Last time we focused on the far east and far west of Immoren, so this week it’s another geographic direction: the North. That means the snow-covered lands of Khador, the northerly climate of Ios and their militarized mage hunters of Retribution of Scyrah, and the tell-tale footprints in the snow where the dragonspawn of the Legion of Everblight tread.
Sorry Jon Snow. Wrong fictional world “North” on the docket here. Although Vayl sure could be mistaken as a White Walker…
First up from the cold snows of Immoren’s North are the resolute forces of Khador. In addition to their quasi-“Soviet” thematic feel when it comes to the design and fluff of the force, there are some clear defining features of the faction. Even a starting player can tell you that Khador is the “high armor” faction. They’ve got the big, strong ‘jacks that can take a hit and then hit back even harder. The feeling of a counter-punch theme exists in the army even past their jacks, with a lot of their infantry bundled the same way–whether heavy armored or light but buffed, they take what the opponent dishes out and then answers with something stronger.
No model captures this better than the Devastator Heavy Warjack. It’s got huge armor that protects it as it slowly chugs its way forward across the field. Then, once it’s taken the best the foe can throw at it (preferably after using its bulldoze ability to move into the midst of the enemy), it opens up to release a withering blast of destruction. There’s just something beautifully brutal and perfectly Khador about watching one of these in action–an implacable, inevitable collision with brutal might, which exactly captures the Khador feel.
Khador is the force defined by massive heavy warjacks, no-nonsense shooting and melee, and infantry with a variety of impressive qualities: from defensive bastions to troopers who don steam-powered armor and pretend to be warjacks themselves. And yet amidst this mighty faction are the simple Kossite Woodsmen. Unarmored other than a few leather pads and bearing only meager bows, muskets, crossbows, and hand weapons, these represent the lightest of light scouts that volunteer or are pressed into service. Even the military nature of the rest of Khador is absent here. Their attacks are unimpressive at best, and even among light infantry their stats are abysmal. When they’re hidden in trees they do slightly better, but otherwise they’re utterly unlike the rest of Khador.
And that’s why this can be a solid-gold unit. They have one critical rule: Ambush. This rule alone makes them a faction theme “breaker” in that their primary use is to be a subtle threat to the foe. The rest of Khador poses highly non-subtle threat, so the Kossite Woodsmen add an interesting twist to the arsenal. With a group of Woodsmen ambushing, the foe is forced into a situation of bad choices. Their stat lines are just bad enough that an opponent could be tempted into ignoring them, allowing you to take a crack at a hidden warcaster or back-line support elements with the scouts. Yet the Kossites are just dangerous enough when arriving from the side/back via ambush that the foe might choose to not ignore them but respect them. Which means committing resources to deal with them–resources that then are not aimed at the rest of the onrushing Khador force. After all, charging models are charging models and back line support is notably fragile. It’s that tactical quandary that the Kossite Woodsmen force that gives them a different feel than the rest of the relatively straight-forward Khador faction.
Legion of Everblight Maker
The spawn of Everblight are first and foremost known for their warbeasts–if any faction runs more beast-heavy than the rest it is Legion. That means that the theme of the faction revolves greatly around what’s frequently shared by their beasts: mobility, eyeless sight, hitting hard but being relatively fragile in return, and shooting. So much shooting. Everblight surprises many by having such depth and variation of shooting, and with that shooting coming primarily from beasts (with eyeless sight) it translates into boostable attack rolls that ensure that the faction’s shooting connects with their targets.
Enter: the Seraph, a Heavy Warbeast that captures the nature of Everblight perfectly. It’s a flying model with a mobility-boosting animus that it uses to slide other models around. It’s a ranged warbeast, far more comfortable shooting than in melee. It’s got precious few damage boxes, so it’s got to play smart and ensure that it wipes out what it hits to limit retaliation. It plays like a synopsis of the feel of the faction, sharing its animus and striking with speed at range.
Legion of Everblight Breaker
The “Breaker” for Everblight was tough to choose, but I settled on the Blighted Nyss Shepherd. A big part of the reason was that the Shepherd is reminiscent to the signature models of a different faction: Skorne’s Paingiver Beast Handlers. But more importantly, this model feels odd compared to the thematic story and abilities of Everblight. Central to the theme is the notion of growing new beasts from the blood of the fallen. From the Incubi to the Spawning Vessel, a big part of Everblight’s core territory is that they don’t need to sweat casualties–they just grow new ones. The Shepherd, by focusing on healing existing models, somewhat plays opposite that “feel” of the faction. The other element of Everblight is that they have a built in safety for their frenzy. They won’t attack their controlling warlock because of the Blood Creation special rule, as the beasts share that common bond through their dragon blood. Thus the fury management element of the Shepherd also plays a bit opposite the feel of the faction. Everblight beasts should be going crazy a bit more often than other factions, confident in the fact that at least their warlocks are protected.
With all that said, it’s worth noting that the Shepherd is an absolutely excellent piece to field with Legion for these very reasons. It effectively minimizes the faction’s “thematic downsides”, and it’s a rare list that couldn’t benefit from their presence.
Retribution of Scyrah Maker
Ah, Retribution of Scyrah. A faction with so many models focused on slowing, impeding, negating, shifting, and denying. That’s not to mention the relatively easy-to-reach theme lists that add whole new ways of impeding foes and denying them benefits. The other hallmark of Retribution is the dual-nature of most of their warjacks. Most have a ranged weapon and a melee option of note, so they’ve got specific roles to play whether they’re at distance or up close. And there’s a slight pillow-fist problem with a fair number of their models–they don’t hit quite as hard as many other factions.
As for a model that best captures the theme of the faction, the Gorgon light myrmidon fits the bill perfectly. It’s shooting attack leaves the target unable to charge this model, which is a handy way to slow models for an extra turn in the right circumstances. The Gorgon also locks its target in place in melee with Force Lock, which can be absolutely devastating to the enemy force. From keeping a model in a prime spot to be attacked the next round to preventing a model from reaching an objective, it definitely hinders the ability of the foe. Add in two open fists for weapon locks, and this myrmidon can “just say no” to an enemy piece more effectively than most. That’s a positive, because it’s not really able to dish out a lot of damage itself. Prevention and denial over raw killing power: exactly the Retribution way.
Retribution of Scyrah Breaker
If Retribution is usually about slowing, impeding, and preventing, then this breaker should be no surprise to those who’ve been playing through the releases that came with the Reckoning book. Thyron the Sword of Truth is a Warcaster that adds an interesting wrinkle to Retribution players: a sudden surprise of impending melee. While other Retribution casters can be effective in running a melee-dedicated force, Thyron represents a no-nonsense option of sheer face-beating fury. His feat boosts attack rolls and gives Side Step to allow short advances after killing models. His abilities add the Cleave rule to his battlegroup for multi-attacking action, and give him abilities that protect him at range and prompt him toward remaining in/near melee. He’s a weaponmaster with no ranged weapon. And his spells are all about supporting himself and his force in getting into melee under their terms. For opponents familiar with Retribution but who haven’t looked too closely at Thyron, they’ll be in for a shock as his force comes barreling up the board right into their lines. For a somewhat smaller faction than the “big four”, it’s a welcome “break” model that gives new options and new consideration to units faction-wide.
That’s all for part two. Look for parts three and four coming soon!
~What are your theme “makers” and theme “breakers” for Khador, Legion of Everblight, and Retribution of Scyrah?
Interested in what “Makers and Breakers” Chalkboard is fielding? Check out his blog at www.chalkboardwar.com.