How do the new Battlegroup Box feats rank for Mark III?
With the new Battlegroup Boxes being released, many Warmachine and Hordes gaming groups are likely to start out with a Journeyman league–that’s what our local meta will be doing first. This chance to play games first with the Battlegroup Boxes and then build on them to expand a force are a great way to ease into the rules changes of the new edition and welcome new players who join up under the excitement of the new edition.
Now that Privateer Press’ No Quarter Issue 66 released the cards of all the new Battlegroup Boxes for Mark III, we can finally get down to actually comparing some of the casters and models between the boxes. And what better way to compare than a “power rankings” system similar to ones done about sports leagues?
This week we start the rankings with the most powerful part of the Battlegroup Box: the warcaster or warlock’s feat. In subsequent weeks the rankings will be adjusted up and down based upon the Warbeasts/Warjacks included in the box, the casters’ other abilities, and finally the Journeyman league effect (which box improves dramatically when they can add in more elements from the rest of the faction). By the end, I hope we can generate a tentative ranking of how the boxes might fare in a Journeyman League.
Malekus’ feat has two components. Fire Damage rolls against enemy models in control range add an additional dice to the damage roll. And fire continuous effects on enemy models cannot expire. I list him as the big winner on the feat side, as “additional dice” is a critical term. Unless the rules change in Mark III, this gives the possibility of all the fire attacks from models that can spend Focus to reach four dice on fire-type attack damage (two regular, plus one boost and this one “extra”). The “flames never expire” part is just gravy. A powerful offensive feat, which places him atop the initial rankings list in my estimation.
Tanith’s feat lets her channel through warbeasts in range, and both she and her warbeasts cast their spells at 1 less Fury for the turn. While a powerful offensive feat to allow a whole bunch of spell-slinging to happen in spots an opponent doesn’t expect, it’s also quite a good utility feat: letting her put up all the buffs/debuffs she might want and letting her warbeasts really go crazy on using their animi if needed. This was the feat that I read and thought “that’s a great assassination vector in Battlebox games,” so I ranked it high accordingly.
Might as well nickname her “Convection of Everblight” as it’s fire-damage central here. Her feat gives friendly faction models +3 STR for the turn and their melee weapons gain continuous fire. Being able to dish out a lot of continuous fire on opponents is nasty, as that’s a good way to finish off any models that you cannot quite stop in your own turn. I also love that it’s +3 STR rather than POW, as that can mean improved power attack shenanigans with any open-fist beasts. Definitely a destructive feat turn in store, and thus a high ranking.
The Magister has my top-ranked defensive feat of the group. While I’m normally less of a fan of defensive feats than offensive feats, this is a pretty nasty one. Helynna lets you remove all force field damage from her warjacks (restoring all the field-dependent rules), as well as granting +3 ARM to friendly faction models and letting warjacks ignore crippled systems effects. That’s an impressive defensive feat, and it means some serious resilience and counter-punch ability for the Retribution. With +3 armor and a full field (6-10 hit boxes returned), some forces may struggle to take the warjacks out in even a subsequent round of attacking them. Great utility for the force, and thus a definite upper-half ranking for this one.
This one might be the most controversial, as some people might rank movement shenanigan feats considerably higher or much lower. Agathia’s feat gives three bonuses: 1) Friendly faction models get Ghost Walk (move through terrain/obstructions freely and no free strikes), 2) friendly faction models gain Stealth, and 3) at the end of her Warjacks’ activations they can be placed within 3″ of their current location. I can imagine many people might using it as a defensive-style feat to cross the board quickly while protecting the full army with Stealth. But if the foe doesn’t bring enough ranged weaponry to the table, it can allow some interesting attack vectors if the entire army can ignore free strikes and terrain. My initial intuition is that it’s a solid, middle-of-the-pack feat effect and thus the middle ranking.
Enemy models suffer -3 STR, MAT, RAT, and THR under the effects of Skorne’s new Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man warlock. A decent defensive debuff as it not only softens enemy melee attacks but considerably increases the chances that attacks simply miss your models thanks to reducing MAT and RAT. Maybe it’s my experience playing a lot of Void Seer Mordikaar in Mark II, but an effective +3 defense isn’t as defensive as it seems sometimes, and depends a lot upon fielding high defense models to begin with (which is only some parts of the faction). The penalty to Threshold is the interesting bit here, but that’s the kind of thing that’s dependent upon the opponent making miscalculations in their Fury math. Given that’s not always the case, and it affects only other Hordes forces, it’s another reason this one slipped down below some of the other feats.
Note that while we’re reaching the lower rankings, it doesn’t mean that their feats are not good. Simply that they’re not as impressive as some of the others. Case in point: Major Beth Maddox’s feat. It gives friendly models +3 POW on melee weapons and beatback. Here I compare to the Legion of Everblight warlock’s feat, and see POW versus STR being less utility overall. Beatback is good, and will set up some tricky plays, but in Journeyman leagues for a long time it will mean just bumping a warjack or warbeast back a couple of inches. Only when support staff or screened casters start appearing in battles will it gain a ton of utility. A solid “average” reaction from me, and thus a relatively low (comparatively to the other boxes) ranking.
Kozlov’s feat grants friendly faction models gain +2 SPD and +2 ARM when engaging an enemy model. Again, not a bad feat on its own, but bland given the relative slowness of the warjacks in Khador on every other turn. If anything, this might be best for giving him a surprise speed boost to pull off some long-range charge to get the job done himself. Armor stacking is nastiest in Khador thanks to the high starting armor values across the faction to begin with, but it’s only for models in melee and thus could see limited application if the opponent doesn’t set up a turn where everything reaches their line at once. And if a scenario forces a quick engagement against a speedy force, then it may be tempting to use the feat to increase the distance ran by the faction on an early turn to not be out-paced in getting to zones (which means that the surprise factor of the speed boost on charges is wasted).
Ragnor’s feat looks impressive at first read: enemy damage rolls roll one less die. That seems to be pretty great in magnitude, but compare it to other feats on this list. Preventing an average of 3.5 damage per attack, that means it merely balances out the Cygnar feat and the Legion feat (though it expires before the fire rolls at the start of the Trollbloods turn), and it brings the Protectorate feat back to just straight damage that can still reach 3 dice rolled. And the Retribution caster’s feat greatly out-strips it: virtually the same damage protection, but two big abilities that repair and allow fighting to continue. If we think about Mark II feats it gets even less impressive, as Stryker’s or Skarre’s feats (if left unchanged in the new edition) well outshine this one. There’s going to be some use to this one in an expanded army, as the spot where this feat helps the most is defending slightly heavier armored infantry (natural or through the Krielstone) from other infantry’s attacks. But for right now, I find it to be the least impressive of the Battlebox feats, as many others have equivalent damage output and some other bonus, or equivalent defensive power plus some other effect.
Anyhow, that’s my initial rankings of the casters based upon feats. Tune in next week as the rankings will change, starting with the effect of the warjacks/warbeasts included in the Warmachine and Hordes Battleboxes. Who will go up? Who will move down? Check it out to see.
~ If you’ve got comments on the ranking or the feats, go ahead an share them below! Did we order important qualities correctly? Think defensive feats are better than offensive ones? Got a reason that a clunker feat might be better than we think? Let us know in the comments section below!
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