This is our second tactical examination of the Cygnaran battlebox. In this one, we’ll be covering the Warjacks, basic tactics versus the other battleboxes, as well as some easy ways to expand your army.
The Warjacks in the Cygnaran battlebox are solid ‘Jacks. You’ve got a heavy melee beatstick in the Ironclad, the Cygnaran light Arcnode in the Lancer, and the Charger ranged light. One thing to realize about Cygnaran units is that your stats tend to be ‘middle-of-the-road’. Khador will have better armor and higher damage output. Cryx and Retribution will be faster with equal or higher defense. The key is to use your spells and abilities to even the playing field.
This thing is great. It’s cheap points-wise, has good DEF, high MAT for a Warjack, and hits well. Consider putting Arcane Shield onto the Ironclad to improve its survival rate since the base ARM 18 isn’t always high enough to keep you alive against another heavy. Think of your Ironclad as a typical melee heavy Warjack with the Quake Hammer as a situational tool. Most of the time your MAT will be high enough not to need the knockdown effect, but against high priority targets such as Warcaster or against anything with DEF 15 or higher, consider knocking the opponent down first, even though it means you’ll need to use Focus to purchase additional attacks later. One side benefit is that a knocked down model does not count as being in melee, meaning you can still target it with ranged attacks with other follow-up units.
This is the Arcnode in the Cygnaran arsenal. Not every caster needs this; Darius and Caine can work without one, but most casters can make some use out of it. The Arcnode is the ‘raison de’tre’ for the Lancer. If you plan to make use of the Arcnode, don’t go charging it into the enemy the first chance you get (remember, an Arcnode in melee cannot be used to arc spells!). Most opponents will try to take out the Arcnode if they can, so either tempt them with other targets or protect it with DEF or ARM boosting spells. Never underestimate the potential power of a free Arcnode in later turns. The Reach ability on the melee weapon also makes this guy a nice complement to any model with the Flank special rule, such as Sword Knights. You can engage an enemy model with the Lancer from 2″ away and still have room to charge in multiple Sword Knight models who will all benefit from the hit & damage bonuses.
The Charger is a solid ranged light Warjack. POW 12 shots may not sound like a lot, but combined with boosted damage rolls and the potential for a 16″ ranged shot with the Snipe spell, and you can do some damage. Don’t believe me? Consider this. Boosted attacks will hit an average of DEF 16-17, and do an average of POW 22-23. That’s not gonna kill a Khadoran heavy in one turn, but thanks to the range, you will do an average of 15 points of damage over 3 rounds of shooting, or 1/2 the damage grid. That makes it that much easier for your other units to take the enemy down. The Charger is also good at taking out annoying multi-wound solos and cavalry models. The one problem with the model is the 3 focus it needs to take 2 shots every turn. Some casters such as Epic Nemo can get around this very easily, though even a Squire can help give that extra focus or two to keep the Charger operating at full potential.
Battlebox game tactics
Remember, you can win a battlebox game in one of two ways- killing the enemy Warcaster OR killing off all the opposing Warjacks. The choice you make will be heavily determined by terrain and how you both move your models. Try to take advantage of your ranged attacks. Go after enemy Arcnodes and ranged Warjacks first to try and force the enemy to close with you on your terms. Althoguh Stryker can do it too, the Ironclad is really your only way to take out heavy Warjacks, so don’t throw it away needlessly.
Menoth can be tough for a new player to deal with simply because of Kreoss, their Warcaster. Lamentation will make your spells and upkeep costs double while in his 14″ control area, and Purification will knock off all your upkeeps. In addition, Kreoss’ knockdown Feat will open you up to all sorts of attacks. Really make an effort to force the Menoth player to come to you. Shoot up his Arcnode (the Revenger) first. Keep Stryker out of Kreoss’ control area as much as possible and try to anticipate when he will use his Feat. On your proceeding turn, use your own Feat and camp some Focus on Stryker to keep yourself from being assassinated. This takes practice, but you should have a good idea of when to do it after playing a few games.
Khador has only two Warjacks at the battlebox level, but they’re both heavies and both have the typical huge Khadoran damage grid. That said, killing off the enemy Warjacks can often be easier than assassinating Sorscha with her potential high DEF and mobility. One way to do this is to bait the Khadoran player into either spreading his Warjacks out so they can’t mutually support each other, or into charging both Warjacks at one target. You’d be surprised how much punishment a Lancer with Arcane Shield and Stryker’s feat can absorb before falling. Then, have Stryker and your Ironclad in the second wave swoop in to finish them off. If the Khadoran player does leave Sorscha open, Earthquake her and light her up. Her ARM 14 and 17 health boxes won’t keep her from dying to two boosted Charger shots and Strykers gun. Sorscha’s feat is something you’ll need to weather. Just accept that your opponent will freeze your army, that you’ll take some hits, and that you’ll need to spend focus to unfreeze yourself. Pre-emptive use of Strykers feat will help you avoid the worst of it.
Cryx is an interesting faction to face. So long as they have an Arcnode alive you can be assassinated. Deneghra’s debuf’s make things even easier for your opponent. So go after those Bonejacks with a vengeance. Killing all three of them may sound like a lot of work, but they can’t absorb much punishment. One other thing to consider is that if you can take out the Slayer heavy Warjack, theCryxian player will have no good way to deal with your Ironclad. Your knockdown effects will come in real handy in this game to bypass the high DEF on the Cryx models.Deneghra is another caster who can be difficult to catch, and most Cryx players will try to be aggressive with those cheap Arcnodes, so winning via Warjack kills may often be your best option.
Where to go from here?
You’ve played some games, you like the faction, but you aren’t sure how to expand. As with any other game, ask yourself what you like.
If you enjoy ranged combat, then try subbing Haley, Siege, Sloan, Kraye, or Caine for Stryker and adding some Trencher or Longgunner infantry. Siege, and Sloan work well with ranged infantry, while Kraye is great with Warjacks, and Haley is just good with everything. Epic Stryker and Darius are premier melee casters, while Nemo and Haley tend to support their armies.
If you enjoy Warjacks, then Epic Nemo, Darius, or Kraye could be right up your alley. Some good infantry to add would be Sword Knights which are cheap and very effective when properly utilized. Stormblades are more expensive in points, but hit like a ton of bricks. Stormguard are awesome at taking out opposing infantry, but need a little more help to kill Warjacks.
The Journeyman Warcaster (aka Junior), and the Squire will help you run your force. Longgunners, Trenchers, Gun Mages, and the Black 13th make for some great ranged infantry support. Stormsmiths can hunt down annoying enemy solos.
Should you desire to run more Warjacks, consider the Hammersmith or Stormclad for agressive melee heavies, while the Centurian makes for a great objective holder that can still do its share of damage. The Hunter light Warjack will scare all of your opponents, and other lights such as the Grenadier and Sentinel make decent ranged anti-infantry platforms.
Consider what you enjoy and go for it! The beauty of Warmachine is that by simply switching out your Warcaster you can have a very different play experience.