Ranking the top three Khador Warcasters in Warmachine and Hordes.
Chalkboard here from Chalkboard War, continuing my series of articles on Warmachine and Hordes that examines the “Best of the Best” attributes across all models and factions. We’ll examine the top Feats, Spells, Abilities, Weapons, Stat Lines, Damage Grids, and anything else that appears on model entries in the game. All to give you a sense for which models are among the best on those categories.
This Week, it’s finally time to delve into the Faction I’ve been hesitant to rank: Khador. As a preview of the final entry in this series, I don’t think that Khador is the number one Faction out there. However, I do think that they have the deepest bench of viable casters in the game. There are easily 10 models that I would have been comfortable putting into this top three. Yet decisions needed to be made. Thus, it’s time for plausible claims for what makes these three Warcasters the best of the best for Khador.
So let’s get right to it! The following are my list of the top three Khador Warcasters in Warmachine and Hordes. At the end is a bonus “Dishonorable Mention” for the one Khador Warcaster that brings down an otherwise impressively high average.
One constant with Khador is the quality of their infantry. And thus a lot of their great Warcasters have a way of pushing generally good infantry to the next level. Irusk2 is definitely one of those Warcasters.
He grants Tough to all faction models within 10″, and has an upkeepable spell that grants immunity to knockdown and immunity to blast damage to all those newly-Tough troops. That’s a hell of a survivable cadre of infantry to face. Whether keeping shooting troops shooting or Iron Fang Pikemen alive to reach melee, he’s got the tools to actually make infantry a problem in the game. With Black Dragons and Ironfangs in particular, getting heaps of P+S 13 models into the enemy alive is often enough to stop many forces.
Then there’s all the rest that Irusk2 enables. How about additional dice for those Warrior unit damage rolls? A threat extension for his battlegroup? Placeable cover thru a spell? Great stealth and hidden solo removal thru Airburst. And capping it all a great two-way Feat that enables his attackers while giving enemy models -3 SPD. His games may often be a bit of a grind, but he enables that play style quite well. Definitely a solid Warcaster in a solid faction.
Yeah, I know. You think Butcher3 should be number one on the list. He’s got a lot to recommend that. Huge assassination potential. Great defensive abilities. A faction that has options for even more defenses to get him where he’s going. Non-linear threat like crazy. And most of all–most players have lost a few games to him.
There’s no denying that he’s a strong Warcaster. But I think that there are some clear answers to playing against him. Best of all, they are answers that don’t take unique list-building decisions (like Ghost Fleet perhaps). Rather, it’s about care in positioning and keeping in mind certain tricks that he can pull. Having a way to simply shut down one of his nasty abilities can be the difference.
And in that, I think he hits the number two spot rather than number one. He’s good, but good players have a plan for him (without needing to tech against him). We have ample Khador in my meta, so I have to always look at a list pairing and know what I’m going to do when facing down the Butcher Unleashed. And I think that holds him back just that little bit.
Signs and Portents. Perhaps I should say it again. Signs and Portents.
It would be unfair to just mention that one spell. But maybe that’s all that’s needed. Everything faction gets additional die attack and damage and drop the lowest. It’s impressively powerful. Makes almost everything reliable. Means you can use all Jack focus to buy extra attacks, and that if infantry cannot aim they still have a good chance of hitting. It’s absolute power, even if it’s not as flashy as many other Warcasters in the faction’s tricks seem to be.
Now that said, Vlad1 also has great other elements. His Feat gets his battlegroup up the board fast or crazy good alpha strikes–especially when he can give Boundless charge as well. Flinging a Juggernaut 13″ downfield is a heck of a scary prospect. If he needs to face ranged attackers he’s got Wind Wall, and if he needs to do work himself late game he can with Blood of Kings. Survivable plus powering literally anything that he brings? That’s what makes Vlad1 edge out the rest. His only fault may be that he’s a bit bland to play–he’s not doing a lot himself. Instead, he’s usually at max range, buffing with the same spell round after round until time for a knockout blow. I guess if winning with a great caster is a drawback, then… well send some drawbacks to my factions!
So here’s the hard part. As I think many of Khador’s Warcasters’ are above the bar in terms of effectiveness. Perhaps all of them. As I have to pick one, I’m going with Butcher2. He gets the nod for the simple reason of unreliability. While there are some concerns I have with a couple of other Warcasters in the faction, I just feel like he’s a bit too fiddly due to his Arcane Dementia rule.
Put simply, as long as an opponent can avoid putting three models together in a spot where he can reach them with melee attacks, his Focus stat is d6+1. Now, he does have tricks to help him get there: berserk and homicidal maniac help, and a clutch Eliminator can really see some movement speed. But it’s likely to only come on turns when he doesn’t have full 7 Focus.
Keep in mind that half the time he’s suffering the dementia he’s going to be at Focus 4 or less. That’s not good at all, either for getting him to the three models killed or for powering his forces. Sure, he can have some great destruction and he’s got a ton of things to like on his card. But at the end of the day, I’d worry about unreliability and randomness. Makes him pale compared to the rest in the faction in my book.
~ Does this ranking fit your thoughts? Did we miss a critical attribute? Was a great model overlooked, or a powerful interaction missed? Is Number One really that good? Do you think the “Dishonorable Mention” is not so dishonorable after all? Let us know in the comments below!
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