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Warmachine: 2 Player Starter – What to Add to Your New Khador Army

12 Minute Read
Nov 14 2011

Now it’s Khador’s turn! Not too long ago I posted up an article expanding on the contents of the Protectorate Two Player Starter contents, and promised to do one for Khador soon.

Just like with my last article, I’m going to focus just as heavily on re-usability with other casters as I am on tailoring the perfect Sorscha list. If you’re new to the game, and haven’t read the tactics primer for the starter set, now would be a good time. It will help you see how these models will interact with it. Here’s my shot at a 35 (new additions in bold).

Kommander Sorscha +5 points

* Destroyer 9 points
* Juggernaut 7 points
* War Dog 1 point

5 Man-O-War Shocktroopers 9 points
10 Winter Guard Infantry 6 points

* Winter Guard Officer & Standard 2 points
* 2 Winter Guard Rocketeers 2 points
Kovnik Jozef Grigorovich 2 points
Koldun Lord 2 points

War Dog: Let’s start off with man’s best friend. The War Dog is a nearly indispensable part of any Khador player’s collection. The most important thing he will do for you is let Sorscha benefit from his Guard Dog ability. This will give her +2 DEF against melee attacks and keep enemy models from taking Free Strikes or getting a Back Strike bonus as long as the dog is within 3″ of her and isn’t stationary. While most Khador warcasters like to bring this faithful canine along, the defensive bonuses are extra helpful with Sorscha as she’s a somewhat fragile spell-slinger in a faction without any Arc Nodes. The War Dog also has the Counter Charge ability which combined with the Return ability means this guy will sometimes get to charge twice per round; on your opponent’s turn as well as your own. Then he can head back to your warcaster to keep them safe. All in all, a great buy for a single point.

Winter Guard: This is the unit that brought the term “Death Star” to Warmachine. Even without any of the added accoutrements that make them so notorious these guys are still a pretty good buy for their cost of 4/6 for a min/full unit. Spd 6 with a Rng 8 POW 12 gun and the CRA ability means these guys have decent threat range and a nice punch. They’re only RAT 5, but as cheap as they are points wise it’s not out of the question to have them do 2 man CRAs when they need to hit infantry. And speaking of CRAs a full unit of them can crank out 2 POW 17s or a single POW 22 a single turn. Just watch out for their low range. It will force you to bunch them up or lose participants from the CRA.

Winter Guard Officer & Standard: This 2 point addition to your Winter Guard really helps to up their by game giving them access to a nice long list of abilities. Bob & Weave is one of the big reasons why these guys are so loathed by anyone having to fight against Khador.When this order is given the unit gains +2 defense and makes a Full Advance. Full Advance is one of those strange Warmachine terms. It’s actually described as moving UP TO your full SPD in inches; not your full SPD value as it seems to imply. So you don’t actually have to go anywhere when you make a Full Advance. Functionally this means if you Bob & Weave you can’t get an aiming bonus even if you don’t go anywhere since you aren’t technically forfeiting your move. And since you only get one order per round, you can’t Bob & Weave and charge. Furthermore if a model is knocked down and receives the Bob & Weave order, it may not attack. It must forfeit its action since it must make a Full Advance. Most of the time the DEF bonus will be worth these limitations. Especially with Sorscha’s Fog of War spell granting concealment to give them a total DEF 16 against ranged and magic attacks. The UA also grants the CMA ability to the unit. You’ll only really want to use CMA if you’re already engaged and don’t want to risk Free Strikes, if you want to hit a high DEF target that’s already engaging one of your models, or if you’ve taken Kovnik Joe and used Bear’s Strength. More on him in a bit. The final ability the UA grants is Grape Shot. This allows any member of the unit to make a RNG 8, POW 10 Spray attack. Now your Winter Guard are just as useful against infantry as they are against heavy targets.

Winter Guard Rocketeer
: The Rocketeer is really just a nice piece of 1 point filler. His rocket launcher gives him an extra 6″ of range over the standard Blunderbuss, and to top it off, it has a 3″ AoE. He can’t make CRAs with it, but he does bring along a blunderbuss of his own in case you need him to contribute to the rest of the unit’s CRA.

Kovnik Josef Grigorovich: This guy is the icing on top of your many layered Winter Guard cake. He’s the one who really brings them into their own and makes them one of the preeminent unit choices in Warmachine or Hordes. Like so many support pieces in the game he’s got three abilities for you to choose from. They will affect him and a friendly unit of Winter Guard. For the Motherland is probably the most helpful. It will grant boosted rolls for ranged or melee attacks. This means you can clear out a lot of enemy infantry with just a few Grape Shot attacks. But if you need hitting power over accuracy you can opt to use Bear’s Strength instead. This will give your Winter Guard +3 strength in melee. While they’ll still be on the low end at a rather mediocre 11, their charge attacks will still hit for 2 to 3 more damage on average than their blunderbusses. This can help them immensely with foes in the mid armor range like the Cinerators you just handed over to the friend you split your starter with. Finally Kovnik Joe can opt to use Courage of the Forefathers, which will give your Winter Guard Tough and Fearless for a round.

Koldun Lord: This guy is a neat little toolbox that can help your army in a lot of ways. He’s primarily here to take some of the focus burden off of Sorscha. As a Jack Marshall, you can assign him to take control of the Destroyer. This will let it charge, boost an attack or damage roll, or buy an extra attack. He can also use the Power Booster Magic ability to give a focus to a warjack that doesn’t already have any. You can give it to the one he’s marshalling to bring up its performance even more. Power Booster will also remove the disruption effect from a warjack, so you can kick start the Juggernaut if need be. While that’s probably the Koldun’s primary ability, there will be times you may want to use Ice Cage instead. Make a successful magic attack against an enemy model, and Ice Cage will drop its defense by 2. This can really help your heavy jacks deal with pieces in the medium defense range. Send a fully loaded Juggernaut against something like an Ironclad or a Dire Troll and MAT 6 means there’s a good chance it will miss once or twice leaving your target still standing and ready for some payback next turn. Ice Cage will help you eliminate that uncertainty and bring the curve up to something you can count on. The Koldun also has Frostbite, a nice little POW 12 magic spray attack you can use to clear out some infantry. Frostbite and Ice Cage both suffer from one weakness though: the Koldun only has a Magic Ability of 7. This means he’s almost as likely to miss as the aforementioned MAT 6 Juggernaut. So make sure it’s worth the risk before you put your Koldun out on the front lines.

So that’s 35. Now let’s bring it up to 50. I’m going to suggest you add:

6 Kayazy Assassins 5 points
*Kayazy Underboss 2 points

Great Bears of Gallowswood
5 points
Eiryss, Angel of Retribution
3 points


Kayazy Assassins: Feared across tabletops everywhere, the Kayazy Assassins are another choice no Khador player should do without. That’s really the reason why I’ve included them since they don’t have any particularly spectacular synergy with Sorscha. Yeah they can benefit greatly from her feat and Icy Grip, but so can everything really. Moving on, while it’s the UA that really makes them fantastic, there are still plenty of good things about a base unit. They already hit pretty accurately at MAT 7, but the Gang ability brings them up to an impressive 9 when they attack a model in melee range of another model in the unit. Gang will also bring their P+S up to 12; not particularly impressive but more than adequate in a faction with damage buffs like Battle Lust and Fury. They’ve also got Stealth to help make sure they get to melee. This can be helpful to Sorscha since she doesn’t have to worry about them blocking line of sight when she uses her feat – as long as they’re five or more inches away from her. Once they do get to melee, your opponent won’t be able to pin them down, since they’ve got Parry and can’t be targeted by Free Strikes. Finally they’ve got Backstab which will give them an additional die on Back Strike damage rolls. It’ll take some real planning to get some use out of that one, since a model has to spend its entire activation completely in another model’s back arc to get the bonus. Still it’s nice to know they have a built in way to up their damage output in the right circumstances.

Kayazy Underboss: This is the reason to be afraid of Kayazy. For just 2 points he turns a mediocre unit into a real nightmare. The Tactics: Duelist rule gives the unit +2 DEF against melee attacks making them a great tarpit on top of everything else they already have going for them. But it’s the Killstroke ability that is probably the real reason to take him. Once per game, all models in the unit can move and charge through other models, and ignore them for line of sight when declaring charges. When using Sorscha with the Kayazy you’re going to want to try to time the use of Kill Stroke to her feat turn, charge an enemy caster that she’s frozen, and hit automatically with all your Kayazy attacks. And since he has a second melee weapon to contribute, you’re going to want the underboss to lead that charge.

Great Bears of Gallowswood: This is another one to put into the “no Khador player should live without them” category. An absolute wrecking crew, these guys each get two MAT 8, P+S 12, Reach, Weaponmaster attacks meaning they can crack hard targets and hack through infantry with equal skill. The Precision Strike ability let’s them pick which branch or column they damage, so they can make sure they take out key pieces like cortexes or spirit branches to cripple anything they can’t kill. In addition each one grants a single useful ability that the whole unit gets to benefit from as long as that one character is still alive. Volkov, the officer, gives them Relentless Charge so they ignore difficult terrain when charging. Yarovich grants Circular Vision giving them a 360 degree sight arc. Kolsk gives them Steady, granting immunity to knock down. You’ll find that last one especially useful since the whole unit also has the Tough ability. A very self-sufficient unit, these guys will help take some more of the focus burden off of Sorscha since they hit about as hard as a heavy warjack without the need to spend any of those precious resources.

Eiryss, Angel of Retribution: I think most Warmachine players will agree that by the time your army hits the 50 point level, you need to make sure Epic Eiryss is a part of it. The primary reason she’s here is for the Arcane Interference ability. Anytime she hits a model with an attack, all upkeep spells and animi on it will expire. Usually you’ll be targeting enemy models and knocking them back down to their base stats to make them easier to kill. But you should never be above shooting one of your own models if it means taking away some really nasty debuff spell like Crippling Grasp or Curse of Shadows. It will also disrupt any warjack hit, adding insult to injury when it comes time to shoot something like an Ironclad with Arcane Shield on it. Finally any model Eiryss hits will lose all focus points on it, making her an indispensable tool for setting up Assassinations against focus-camping Warcasters. The downside is it will disrupt one of your own warjacks if you shoot it to clear off an enemy upkeep spell. But hey your Koldun Lord will be there to help if it comes down to it. Moving on, Camoulflage, Pathfinder and Stealth will help Eiryss stay alive while she maneuvers around the table with a whopping SPD 7.That high speed makes it easy for her to use another nasty ability: Technological Interference. Warjacks within 5″ of her can’t be allocated focus or channel spells. This means Eiryss can basically shut down any warjack within 19″ of her at the start of her activation without even having to roll to hit. And with that healthy 5″ diameter on the effect it probably won’t be hard to catch two or more from time to time. And of course she can always shoot one warjack and stand near another. Finally there’s Sniper, probably her least interesting ability. When she hits with a ranged attack, she can always do at least 1 point of damage to a warjack or warbeast she atttacks, and pick the branch or column the damage goes to.

Finally I’m going to address some things that got left out. Widowmakers are a popular choice with their long range, high rat, and the Sniper ability. For 4 points, you can squeeze them in at the 35 pt level by keeping your Winter Guard unit at minimum size, and leaving out the Rocketeers. For my list I just crammed in as many Winter Guard as I could since I’d already spent 4 points on assistance for them.

Manhunters are one of the best 2 point solos in the game. They hit hard with Weapon Master, and accurately with MAT 8. I put the Koldun in instead since he has a more versatile set of abilities and this army already has a lot of concentrated force.


The Winter Guard Mortar Crew can do very well with Sorscha. With incredibly long range, high POW, and the arcing fire ability, they can be a useful part of a feat turn assassination run. I just find them to be a little unreliable the rest of the time. You can always take the Koldun Lord and a Rocketeer out of the list if you want to fit them in.

Doom Reavers can also be a great choice for Sorscha. With Berserk, Reach, Weapon Master and P+S 13 they’re one of the most destructive units in the game. Charge them into a unit with Arm 15 or less that’s been hit with Icy Grip and you can just box every single-wound enemy infantry model within 2″ of them. No rolls required. They also have Spell Ward meaning Sorscha‘s Fog of War, is one of the few ways to boost their defense. Ultimately the greater utility of the Winter Guard meant they won out for me.

Beast 09 is Sorscha’s Character warjack, and a fantastic piece for any Khadoran Warcaster. He can be a great replacement for the Juggernaut from the starter. Although that kind of defeats the purpose of this article since it’s about adding to the things you already own – not replacing them. Since he costs a whopping 11 points, you’d have to take out the Koldun Lord and the two rocketeers to squeeze him in at 35. Alternatively you could add him in at the 50 point level by leaving out the Kayazy and the Great Bears. That would also give you an extra point to spend on another Rocketeer. The only reason he didn’t make my 50 is since it already has two heavy warjacks in it.

Saxon Orrick is the last piece I feel like I have to include. He does a few things worth mentioning, but what you’ll be taking him for is the Reconnaissance ability. It let’s him give a model or unit Pathfinder. Terrain is a funny thing. People play it differently in every town or city. This makes it very difficult to judge the value of a model that let’s you ignore it. So think about how terrain has affected you in the games you’ve played so far. If it’s been getting in your way a lot, Orrick may be just the man you need. Put him in instead of the Rocketeers.

~Well that’s my take. But I want to get a discussion going so let me know how I did. What would you put in your first 35 and 50 point Khador lists?

Ben Williams
  • Warmachine 2 Player Starter: How to Use Your New Army