Looks like the Warmachine 2 Player starter is doing its job. I keep hearing that a lot of new players are looking forward to picking it up. So for all you guys out there who are brand new to the game of Warmachine, here’s a quick analysis of the items you’ll be getting.
The Protectorate of Menoth units
High Exemplar Kreoss is the Protectorate warcaster you’ll find in the box. He has a good mix of spells and is overall a very balanced caster. One of the things that really stands out about him are his multiple anti-magic abilities. Between Lamentation and Purification, he’ll be a real challenge for any opponent that wants to cast a lot of spells. And if you can’t spare the focus to cast Purification you can always whack something with Kreoss’s flail Spellbreaker. Even your own models are fair game, as killing a single infantry model or causing a few points of damage to a warjack may very well be a worthwhile cost for getting rid of a particularly nasty enemy upkeep spell. Just be aware that doing so will get rid of any friendly upkeeps as well. And speaking of friendly upkeeps, Defender’s Ward is a great defensive spell that will really make your opponents groan at the prospect of having to take out whatever you decide to put it on. Kreoss also has some offensive spells at his disposal with Immolation and Cleansing Fire. While its good to be aware of them in a pinch, I rarely use them tending to be more likely to spend my focus on Purification, upkeeps, and running warjacks.
Even with a bunch of great spells, what’s defined this guy as a Warcaster since the beginning is his feat. Menoth’s Wrath is often the primary focus of Kreoss strategies as it will knock down all enemy models in Kreoss’s control area. This means when using the High Exemplar, you will typically be trying to maneuver your army into the proper position to assassinate your opponent’s warcaster. While knocked down, intervening models will no longer block line of sight, and your opponent’s prone warcaster will be much easier to hit. Its been called “the Kreoss Pop n’ Drop” for nearly a decade now. If your opponent is too canny to allow you this opportunity, you’ll want to try to mop up as much of his army as you can while their defense is so drastically reduced. The feat is also a great help defensively since knocked down units and solos have to forfeit move or action on their following turn. So unless you were engaging them when your turn ends, you can be guaranteed immunity from their melee attacks. Meanwhile enemy warjacks or Warbeasts that want to activate normally will have to spend a focus or fury to “shake” the knockdown putting an even bigger burden on an opponent already struggling to cast anything thanks to Lamentation.
Kreoss’s big hindrance is his low defense and armor. With only Def 14 and Arm 15 this guy is almost as paper thin as they get. This means you’ll rarely be putting him in melee, despite the fact that he’s got pretty good offensive stats. It also means if you’re planning on casting any of Kreoss’s offensive spells you’re going to want to do it through an arc node. If you’re worried about keeping him alive and thinking about having him cast Defender’s Ward on himself, keep in mind that it will expire as soon as you cast Lamentation. You can only have one upkeep on a model/unit at a time. Lets go ahead and move on to the other box components and see how they factor in to how your new army is going to play.
The Crusader heavy warjack is about as generic as they come. It may be the only model in the game that has the back of its card blank. But for 6 points it hits incredibly hard and has some serious staying power. On top of that, out of all the Warmachine factions, The Protectorate has the most and the best bells and whistles to make your warjacks that much better. And since Choir and Vassals probably warrant a couple paragraphs just for themselves, we’ll go into them at a later time. For your games with just the starter box contents, try to keep this guy back a bit and ready to counter-charge. Its probably worth it to bait an opponent into charging one of your Cinerators if it gives your Crusader a chance to retaliate.
The Vanquisher is one of the most beloved warjacks in the Protectorate arsenal. Its a little weaker than the Crusader in melee, but its Blazing Star has the Chain Weapon advantage meaning its actually better against models with shields or infantry in Shield Wall. It also has the Thresher advantage, but without reach you’ll really only get to use it to full effect if your Vanq survives a charge from a bunch of infantry. What makes this ‘jack so desirable is its Flame Belcher. This 4″ AOE weapon will also set everything its template touches on fire, on top of the usual blast damage they’ll take. This means it circumvents any of the irritating things out there with immunity to blast damage, Satyxis Raiders being a great example.
The Repenter is a great little buy for 4 points. It’s another pretty straightforward ‘jack with just a flamethrower and a flail. What makes the Repenter so desirable, is that sprays ignore Stealth, Concealment, and Cover, so this guy gives you a cheap and easy way to deal with stuff your opponents probably thought was safe. And with Kreoss‘s feat to help out, you really won’t have to worry about hitting anything under that spray template.
Finally we have the Cinerators. These guys will be great objective holders just like any heavy infantry. They are my number one choice as a target for Defender’s Ward as it will make them especially hard to deal with. My favorite thing about them is probably their Blazing Swords’ Flame Burst ability. Dealing fire to all enemy models within an inch of a model the Cinerators box can make up a lot for them only having one attack when fighting infantry. While their Relentless Advance ability can give them extra speed, I still find they get themselves charged a lot. This can be used to your advantage however. If you can bait a unit of infantry into charging just one or two of them, that should leave that unit nice and clumped up for the Cinerators to claim heavy casualties on the counter-charge thanks to Flame Burst.
Kommander Sorscha leads the starter forces of The Motherland. Her spell list not only gives her access to a few movement enhancing abilities, but also gives her lots of ways to stop your opponent in their tracks. Boundless Charge will give your slow moving Khadoran Warjacks a much needed speed boost. Wind Rush gives Sorscha an immediate advance to help her move around the battlefield in a hurry, taking key positions in a flash or escaping from danger after casting a spell. Freezing Grip is one of the nastiest offensive spells in the game, making a model or unit stationary for a round. That means it will only be def 5 against magic or ranged attacks, and be hit automatically in melee. While anything that can use focus or fury can “shake” that stationary effect and be back at fighting strength for its next turn, a unit hit by it will also have to forfeit its entire next activation. Its not an upkeep so you will have to recast it on later turns, but the bright side to this is that nothing in the enemy army that can eliminate upkeeps can get rid of it. Just be sure to make yourself aware of anything your opponent may have that cannot be made stationary. Tempest has a dual use. As a 4″ AoE spell that will cause pow 12 hits to any models touched by its template, Tempest can reliably clear out most single wound models. But it also knocks things down allowing you to more easily hit high def targets like enemy warcasters or warlocks. Fog of War is also great, granting concealment to every model in your control area, making it that much harder for your opponent to hit them with ranged and magic attacks. Finally we have Razor Wind. While its just a simple little pow 12 attack, its important to remember that a few boosted pow 12’s can bring a reliable assassination victory in the right circumstances. And of course it can also be useful for killing roving incorporeal models.
Like High Exemplar Kreoss, a lot of what makes Kommander Sorscha really powerful is her feat. Icy Gaze will make all enemy models in Sorscha’s control area and in her line of sight stationary in the same way as the aforementioned Freezing Grip spell. This means, assuming you figure out a way to get your opponent’s Warcaster or Warlock in Sorscha‘s line of sight, she will be able to set up a nice assassination victory. A lot of times Sorscha can do the task herself, charging something, then casting Wind Rush to advance another six inches into melee with an enemy warcaster or warlock. Then using Icy Gaze to make them stationary and spending her last 4 focus to make auto-hitting Frostfang attacks against them. And if you can’t pull that off, the Khadoran army does have lots of long range Arcing Fire weaponry you can use to blast frozen targets without actually needing line of sight.
Sorscha’s big shortcoming is her low focus score. There’s a reason why Icy Grip is so devastating. It costs 4 focus to cast, and your going to want to boost to hit with it. That means on one of those rare occasions you’ll be in a position to use it Sorscha will have to commit 5 of her 6 focus to the effort. Its the same story with Tempest. And with only arm 14 she’s fragile enough to actually succumb to boosted blast damage. So if you’re going to bring this girl to the battlefield be careful with her. She’s pretty fragile.
Moving on, the Juggernaut is pretty much the iconic Warmachine warjack. As hard as it hits, and as hard as it is to bring down, its a sweet deal for only 7 points. With Critical Freeze, its Ice Axe will make an enemy model stationary on a critical hit. This can end up being really helpful; making it easier to hit an enemy warcaster or warlock on those rare occasions a Juggernaut can get into melee with one of them. Most of the time what it will do for you is make your opponent waste a focus or fury shaking the stationary state off a model you didn’t manage to finish off in one turn. That’s one less attack they can make against an arm 20 ‘jack with 34 damage boxes.
The Destroyer is also pretty straightforward: big warjack, big gun, big axe. Arcing fire and range 14 on its Bombard are what makes a Destroyer worth its 9 points. It can pick off solos, and damage warcasters that thought they were safely hidden behind other models. Just remember that models within an inch of the intervening model are still off limits, as per the fine print in the Arcing Fire rule. Finally, while its only pow 17 in melee, from time to time you’ll get to toss a little extra damage on there with the Critical Amputation ability.
That just leaves us with the Man-O-War Shocktroopers. Another unit that typifies Khador: hard hitting and hard to kill. These guys suffer from a very low spd score, which means they’ll have to run frequently and won’t be able to perform the Shield Wall order as often as you’d like. But if you can get them in Shield Wall on an objective, it will take a huge dedication of resources to get rid of them. With Pow 14 you can be sure a charging unit of Shocktroopers will put the hurt on even a heavy warjack while the CMA ability can help them hit targets with high defense. They have guns too, but the Shocktrooper’s low rat score tells me they’re really just there to remind your opponent they can’t bait you into charging and leaving Shield Wall; you can always make a ranged attack if you must.
~Well that was a lot to cover in just one article, so all you new folks feel free to ask some questions in the comments. And also let us know how your first games have been going.