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Warmachine: Lord Commander Stryker Tactica (part 1)

7 Minute Read
Oct 21 2014
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Lord Commander Stryker is everyone’s favorite brooding, antiheroic action hero from the nation of Cygnar.  Let’s take a moment to talk about how to play this ultimate bad-boy!

What’s up, folks!?  It’s Trevy the Great on loan from over at Way of the Swan to talk about my favorite Cygnaran Warcaster, Lord Commander Stryker.  The leader of Cygnar’s elite Storm Brigade, Stryker2 is a Warcaster both near and dear to my heart.  I was enraptured by Stryker’s background early on in my Warmachine career and he was the first Warcaster I decided to take to the field competitively.  In the mist-shrouded dark ages of “back then,” I felt that I was pretty proficient at playing Stryker2 and had a lot of fun with him, but as I’ve grown as a player, I’ve learned to use more of the tools that Stryker brings to the table.  I figured that I would show you folks a couple of the strategies I employ when I put the Lord Commander down on the table.
Before we get into that, though, let’s take a quick look at what Stryker2 brings to Cygnar’s armed forces.  First of all, the Lord Commander is no slouche in combat and doesn’t shirk from leading from the front, bringing a powerful P+S 15, Reach sword that causes Disruption to Warjacks (causing them to be unable to receive Focus next turn), a RoF 2, POW 12 gun that also causes Disruption and a super legit defensive statline of 16/16/17 DEF/ARM/Boxes.  This is further compounded by Stryker’s Overload ability, which allows him to increase his strength by 1-3 D6 by taking the same number of D6 damage; a dangerous ability that allows Stryker to assassinate or close a game out with ease.  With Velocity, a spell that allows Stryker to spend 1-3 Focus and move 2” for each Focus spent, Stryker can get out of the way after using these abilities, or push his melee threat range up to an impressive 17”!  Velocity and Rolling Thunder (I’ll cover that later) also give Stryker almost unparalleled mobility, allowing him to escape from danger or support any area of the table that needs it with ease.  All this personal presence doesn’t mean that Stryker neglects his army in the way that a super-solo like Butcher3 does.  Quite the opposite, in fact!  With Deflection (+2 ARM for faction warriors in his CNTRL vs. ranged and magic attacks), Stryker helps his usually-slow melee troops get to the fight unharmed and with Positive Charge (a buff that he casts on a Warjack, giving it and faction warriors within 3” +2/+2 to melee attack/damage rolls) they pack a punch once they get there.
Martyr THIS, Harby!
As if personal power, an ARM buff AND damage buff weren’t enough, Stryker controls the board excellently between his ability to lay down Disruption on enemy Warjacks and his last two spells Lightning Storm, a 3” AoE nuke that deals a POW 10 to anything entering it for one round, and his moneymaker; Rebuke.  Rebuke is an incredible spell; simply put, it stops a model/unit from giving or receiving Orders or making special attacks.  First of all; this slows enemy infantry by making them unable to run or charge, but let me list off a number of additional effects it stops dead:
            -Shield Wall
            -Assault
            -Assault and Battery
            -Armor Piercing (* attack)
            -ANY Power Attack (Slam, Trample, Headbutt, Weapon Lock, Power Strike, Sweep)
            -ANY Magic Ability * attack (e.g. Hex Bolt, Rock Hammer, Tremor, Kiss of Lylyss, Ice Bolt, Ice Cage, Frosthammer)
Voyle had it coming
That’s huge!  This spell utterly neuters several unit types in the game; most Cavalry are totally crippled by it, Shield Wall infantry are left vulnerable and spellcasting units are left without anything to do, all of them ready to be eviscerated on the advancing lines of melee infantry or pounded to dust by the might of Cygnaran guns.  Even if they don’t have any special orders, infantry tagged by this spell are slowed down by their inability to run or charge, allowing more opportunity to alpha strike them or shoot them to death.  Even tagging heavies or Warbeasts with powerful special attacks such as Armor Piercing, can be worth it occasionally.  A catastrophically devastating Cygnaran alpha is often preceded by a turn of double or triple Rebukes going down on the most important enemy infantry units.
Last but not least on his card is Stryker’s Feat; Rolling Thunder (the most fun Feat in the game to yell at the top of your lungs), which gives friendly Faction model/units (that’s important; you only need to catch one model to affect the entire unit) a 3” advance and a normal melee attack.  This Feat has plenty of applications, but it’s most useful with Reach troops who can take the most advantage of the 3” movement (they effective threat 5” with their feat attacks) and can pile in to annihilate heavy targets.  Troops who generate multiple damage rolls with each attack such as Stormguard or Storm Lances with their Electro-Leap ability, dealing a POW 10 to the nearest model with each successful hit, Rolling Thunder can allow them to clear tons of models.  Additionally, the 3” advance is useful on non-melee-centric models simple to reposition them.  Ranged-focused units such as Gun Mage Pistoleers can clump up to take advantage of lanes of LoS before spreading out to take cover or survive AoE attacks, important solos can move aggressively to make ranged attacks before move back out of harm’s way, and Stryker himself can use it to reposition slightly.
Lastly in this article, I’ll talk about my favorite units with Stryker2 and give you folks a brief run-down of how I use them:
If you’re looking to build an all-rounder Stryker2 list, or one that focuses on powerful infantry to deliver a punch, I am of the opinion that the following needs to be the core of your list.  The models in this ‘core’ are supported by everything Stryker2 does and benefit uniquely from his set of abilities:
Lord Commander Stryker (*6pts)
* Lancer (6pts)
* Squire (2pts)
Horgenhold Forge Guard (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Captain Jonas Murdoch (2pts)
Archduke Alain Runewood (3pts)
Captain Maxwell Finn (3pts)
Journeyman Warcaster (3pts)
Reinholdt, Gobber Speculator (1pts)
The Forge Guard-Murdoch-Finn combo is very powerful and benefits highly from all of Stryker’s abilities.  It allows you to slow down enemy infantry using Rebuke from the Lancer then hit them with SPD 6 (from Finn’s desperate Pace, giving them +2 movement) Forge Guard on the feat turn.  If you need to crack some armor, the Lancer works just as well as a Positive Charge delivery system and even goes up to MAT 8, P+S 14 so it can deal some damage on the way in.  Reinholdt is in there to help Stryker land those important Rebukes and give him 3 shots with his awesome gun!
Mercenaries make the best Trenchers
I also like reach Storm Knight units a lot with Stryker; Stormguard and Storm Lances.  Stormguard under Rolling Thunder can dig deep into enemy lines like Forge Guard, but with the ability to clear more infantry while they do so.  Storm Lances fill a more combined-arms role, clearing high-DEF infantry with their MAT 9 (11 with Runewood’s +2 to charge attack rolls from Path to Victory!), Electro-Leaping charge attacks or stabbing more heavily armored targets with their pointy lightning sticks.
Sons of Cygnaran aristocracy, highly trained and well-equipped?  Let’s use them to jam!
As a cheap infantry that can benefit uniquely from Positive Charge, Sword Knights of course deserve a mention!  When flanking with a Positive Charge’d Warjack, these fellows become mighty MAT 10, P+S 12 weapon masters!  With Runewood they gain Reform, which allows them to move 3” before the 3” advance from Rolling Thunder kicks in, letting them jam up enemy units they charge very hard.  Sword Knights are also excellent ‘jack marshalls due to their attachment’s Pronto ability, allowing a marshaled Warjack to make a full advance on the passing of a successful CMD check, which will probably be 10 with a re-roll due to Stryker’s impressive CMD score and the standard bearer that comes packaged with the Sword Knight officer.  I’ll write in the future about making the Sword Knight ‘jack marshal package really hum with Stryker2 and building lists specifically around them.
That’s all for today folks; next time I’ll talk about some awesome Stryker2 lists using some of the aforementioned units!  Stay classy, swans!
Are you a Stryker fan?  What do you bring to the table when you put down the Lord Commander?  I’ve got plenty of Stryker2 and other awesome Cygnar biz on my blog, Way of the Swan, check it out!

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