What’s the final pre-season analysis of each Warmachine and Hordes Battlegroup for Mark III Journeyman?
Chalkboard here from Chalkboard War, with a “pre-season” Power Rankings report of the Warmachine and Hordes Battlegroup Boxes and how they are likely to fare in Journeyman leagues. First I sorted them all by strength of Feat (which I still find to be the most important factor in a caster). Then they were adjusted by the Warjacks and Warbeasts included in each box, and finally last week I adjusted the rankings further when considering the personal contributions each caster brought with spells and abilities. This week is the final adjustment, where we consider the Journeyman league effect: which Warmachine or Hordes boxes improve most dramatically when they can add in more elements from the rest of the faction. Every faction improves at this point in a Journeyman League–the question is which battlegroup boxes have the highest potential to improve when bringing other models in from their faction. Note that it’s not a “oh, this is a power piece that needs to be added” but rather a “this ability within the battlegroup box benefits from that sort of addition” analysis. Sure it’s pre-season forecasting, as the rules are only finally out now, and only Lock and Load has seen these battlegroup boxes hit the table with Mark III rules. But hopefully it gives all of us starting a new Journeyman league at the end of the month an exercise to think about.
#1 – Tanith the Feral Song (up two from last week)
Tanith has been lurking in the top half the whole time, and giving her access to more from the Circle Orboros faction will only add to her trickiness. The Scarsfell Griffon is downright scary with Long Leash and Tanith’s Feat. Imagine two of them, one flying up each side, and having to deal with them or face six Bleeds channeled through them at your caster/support elements before you’re even close to the rest of her force. And think of all the new Animi that become downright ugly with a cost reduction: Rotterhorn Griffons can Death Shriek 3 times under feat, making the POW 8 damage roll much nastier, and many others (Brennos, Woldwyrd, and Wold Guardians in particular) become much more efficient at doing their thing. The Woldwrath is the final piece of the nasty puzzle, giving an additional die magic attack rolls with its own animus against enemies within 10″. Tanith’s “Bleed them to death” becomes all the more threatening if she doesn’t have to boost to hit. And note that all this comes before adding infantry support that can buy time to get her nasty Feat strike into place.
#2 – Malekus, the Burning Truth (down one from last week)
Malekus certainly gets better when he builds on the battlegroup box, but he slips a bit due to the sheer tricksy-ness of what Tanith seems to offer. What he gains on the expansion phase of the Journeyman league is access to two key things. First, the Choir of Menoth and their ever-useful support of the faction Warjacks. The Passage and Shielding abilities make it so his warjacks get more time to get their work done before the foes can effectively damage them, and that’s never a bad thing. Second, he gains additional sources of Continuous Fire. Exemplar Cinerators and Flameguard Cleansers both can pass out the fire with ease, but it’s the Cleansers that really shine: as their shots get additional damage when they do them AND at the start of the opponent’s turn. Khador and Trollbloods may be able to shrug it off, but any faction with slightly lighter armor values is going to see anything they set on the board have tough times if Malekus is in range.
#3 – Kryssa, Conviction of Everblight (up one from last week)
This is a caster made for larger games. She doesn’t do the job herself, but rather the more bodies she gets within her control range, the more powerful her Feat and spells become. Strider Blightblades, with two attacks each and a Combined Melee Attack should there be high defense foes, could be ruinous on her Feat turn. I also think that hot-swapping Tactical Supremacy on two shooting units could really be nasty, as it can let shooting units get back to safety after firing their shots (remember, you can pre-measure to pull this off just right). With the comparatively long ranges of Nyss bowfire, this can potentially let them play stand-off for an extra turn before charging in on a Feat turn in a grand sacrifice of lighting foes on fire. And finally, Cloak of Ash simply does better on units than warbeasts if you’re not simply keeping it on her to for her own protection.
#4 – Lord Kozlov, Viscount of Scarsgrad (up one from last week)
His suite really comes together at this point. This is a box in need of some Doom Reaver Swordsmen or Man-O-War Demolition Corps. Battlegroup box games will be heavy on the warjacks and beasts, and his Fury spell on a hard-hitting unit (weapon master in the former case, a huge P+S in the latter) will give a heck of an edge. While it’s good on the jacks, it’s with one of these units that really put them over the top. Tactical Supremacy also really shines (see #3 above) if he wants to bring some shooting support to thin out the opponent before melee. No matter how he adds infantry support, Kozlov has a way to improve them.
#5 – Magister Helynna (down three from last week)
Comparative to the other factions, I think Helynna loses the most at the jump beyond the initial Battlegroup Box games. In the smaller games, the ability to shrug off the damage taken is huge. But in larger games, she’s stuck with a Sophie’s Choice of sorts: either take more warjacks or add in troops. While Deceleration helps troops a little bit, she’s primarily a warjack caster. However, that means that she needs to be very careful to not let enemy units slip around the edges of her jacks and right into her. She’s the weak spot of the battlegroup, to be sure, and navigating how many troops are enough to block the wings while still fielding sufficient warjacks to really shine with her abilities will be the key challenge. Thus, I see her being dominant in early games but having to cope with an either/or disadvantage as the points go up.
#6 – Ragnor Skysplitter, the Runemaster (up two from last week)
The larger the game, the more I like Ragnor (like Legion’s Kryssa, above). First and foremost, his Feat goes from middling to great with just a bit more swing in defensive stats–and that’s where adding in the various Trollbloods support pieces will have a dramatic effect. The Krielstone’s +2 ARM bonus to friendly faction models brings this Feat above the advantages that the other battlegroup boxes have access to. I’m not sure if the Krielstone is a “must have” for every Trollbloods caster, but I think that it is for Ragnor. It helps the lights in the box get up to the point they may survive contact with foes, and then be able to return the favor with Ragnor’s help. I think this warlock, more than any other in the new boxes, gains the most when he can get access to things beyond the starting box.
#7 – Beast Master Xekaar (up two from last week)
Making the jump to including Skorne units with this box really helps it shine, as that’s where the Feat and Mortality will be cruel. The Feat really will sing with some of Skorne’s high-defense infantry, giving them time in melee to get a second round of attacks (or merely jamming) completed. Add in Mortality, and whatever unit you add in is going to have some real hitting power. Plus, Skorne always gets lifted in a Journeyman when they can start to add in their support elements, and Mark III looks to be the same. Sure, the Condition ability isn’t as amazing as it was, but they’re still going to have those little support pieces that are so effective that the beasts have to be somewhat limited in compensation. Every faction has this, but Skorne (like Menoth above) were most dependent on support in the past, and show no real sign of that changing.
#8 – Bane Witch Agathia (down two from last week)
Alas, how the middle have fallen. Like the others that really fell this week, it’s about relative gains. While I think Cryx is going to have more game than many of the salty folks on the internet seem to think, I agree that their units in particular lost some of their oomph. Journeyman league advancement on the weeks you add more from the faction was always a case of bringing in a powerful and complementary unit and maybe a solo. I’m not sure what that unit is with this box. Probably one of the Satyxis options is the best choice, as the Feat and Ghostly can give them good vectors of advance and Parasite helps them hit hard. But I’m not seeing the kind of dramatic upsides of units or models that really “sing” when they get added to this battlegroup box–thus a bit of a decline in the overall ranking.
#9 – Major Beth Maddox (down two from last week)
Getting access to a unit makes Dauntless Resolve actually function, so that’s an improvement. But the box still suffers from a strong matchup dependence, which the faction doesn’t exactly lessen. Sure, you can layer in further lightning sources and go whole hog, but notice how it’s a different ball of wax than the case of the Menoth fire-train in their Battlegroup Box (just more lightning, not better lightning). You gain more flexible options when the move to adding units from the rest of the factions happens, but I’m not convinced the relative gains are enough. I’m thinking that this box more than many of the others is simply hoping to win as much as it can until it swaps casters, which is why it falls this week.
Anyhow, that’s the conclusion of my pre-season ranking of the Warmachine and Hordes Battlegroup Boxes, this time evaluating the effect of adding the rest of the faction on Journeyman expansion weeks. It may be right, it may be wrong–the only way to find out is grab your favorite box and take it into a league to see for yourself!
~ If you’ve got comments on the rankings, go ahead an share them below! How do the final standings match your thinking? Think we undercut a particular factions impact? Got salty tears to share? Let us know in the comments section below!
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