How do the new Battlegroup Box Warjacks and Warbeasts rank for Mark III?
Chalkboard here from Chalkboard War, with a “pre-season” Power Rankings report of the Warmachine and Hordes Battlegroup Boxes and how they are likely to fare in Journeyman leagues. Last week I gave an initial ranking of the boxes based upon solely the Feats of the various casters (which you can read all about right here). This week it’s time to put the Warjacks and Warbeasts from the Battlegroup Boxes into the mix, and ponder how they are likely to affect the relative strength of the groups. In subsequent weeks the rankings will be adjusted up and down based upon the casters’ other abilities, and finally the Journeyman league effect (which box improves dramatically when they can add in more elements from the rest of the faction). By the end, I hope we can generate a tentative ranking of how the boxes might fare in a Journeyman League.
#1 – Kryssa, Conviction of Everblight (up two from last week)
Why was the Legion of Everblight starter box so effective in Mark II? Simple numbers. They had activations to spare thanks to sporting four Shredders in addition to the Carnivean and the caster. And while their numbers are down, the Legion Battlegroup Box continues the tradition of simply having more models than everyone else. This time it’s only two Shredders, but I think it’s still a strong advantage. The Nephalim Bolt Thrower really adds some good punch to help those numbers. Even if it doesn’t get a critical and knock down the target, the push from the Thunderbolt ability means that this force can build its own path for its numbers to be brought to bear. Attractor on the Neraph is even more move-the-foe icing on the cake. And to really top things off, combine numerical superiority with a feat that gives the Fire Continuous Effect on melee weapons for a very impressive presence in a Journeyman League.
#2 – Magister Helynna (up two from last week)
I’ve always liked the models in the Retribution Battlegroup. They can get where they want to be fast, while managing ranged damage extremely well. Plus, the Manticore’s Covering Fire is just priceless. Nevermind that it’s best against single-wound infantry, the psychological determent of movement is a huge benefit. With the group unchanged other than the Warcaster, I think it’s even better. Kaelyssa had a defensive feat, as does Helynna, but I think the depth of Helynna’s is just superior. These models will do as they do best, roll in fast to set up advantageous positions and deny the opponent the same. Add to that increased survivability, and I simply like the package as a whole. Don’t forget that two different Warjacks with two open fists open up some serious possibilities if the two-handed throw rules remain the same.
#3 – Malekus, the Burning Truth (down two from last week)
Some of the glow had to come off Malekus when the Warjacks were figured in, as well… they’re still Protectorate Warjacks. Just a little less “oomph” than other factions because they’re still subtly paying the “choir tax” for being in a faction that does an amazing job buffing their Warjack models. The problem is that in Journeyman Leagues (at least the way they’ve been before Mark III), you spend a fair amount of time with just the Warjacks and the caster. The swap to the Castigator is an interesting one too. It certainly has synergy with Malekus’ feat, but it lacks the huge damage output of the Crusader’s mace in the prior version of the Protectorate box. Ultimately I think these Warjacks struggle just a bit against high armor forces, which can be mitigated but is still a reason that they’re moving down in the ranking just a bit.
#4 – Bane Witch Agathia (up one from last week)
Two heavies, even if they are the slightly fragile Cryx variety, make a big difference. Especially with the volume of attacks the two can bring in combination. The Reaper is a huge addition for the battle box, as the one-two punch of the Reaper towing in an enemy Warbeast or Warjack with the Harpoon and then the Slayer rolling up to inflict huge damage with a Combo Strike is going to be tough for some forces to handle, especially if they’re unable to answer at range. With a means to advance safely for a turn thanks to Agathia’s Feat, and the classic arc node bonejack along to deliver Parasite onto whatever target strays into their range, it’s a potent approach that will be tougher to avoid than people think.
#5 – Major Beth Maddox (up two from last week)
I was a bit underwhelmed by Major Maddox’s Feat, but I think the Warjacks included in the Battlegroup Box bring a pretty good mix to benefit from it. Both the light warjacks end up hitting well above their weight class under the Feat, and it puts the Ironclad at a really good spot with its Quake Hammer. I like this mix, as I think the Firefly is a nice touch. It has potential to soften up targets as they approach along with Beth herself, especially when they get in close and the Ionization effect is in play. It makes for a nice one-two Punch. And the Lancer is always a great piece in Journeyman Leagues because you know that about half the forces you face will be Warjacks, and I’ve seen the Cortex Damage from the Shock Shield swing battles in Cygnar’s favor before. The Ironclad rounds out the group as a solid and absurdly cheap Heavy (only a point more than the Troll Impaler, yet hits at 5 higher strength with more armor, damage boxes, and a second attack). A good complement of Warjacks brings up this box somewhat, while some other factions moved down.
#6 – Tanith the Feral Song (down four from last week)
Last week I talked about her potential as a spell assassin, and that certainly remains the same. However, the discount on the animi of the various warbeasts leaves a bit to be desired. The Gorax can Primal itself, the Pureblood, and then charge, which could be effective. And there’s a cheaper Doppler Bark for the Argus. But the synergy is just a little underwhelming. The Battlegroup itself is effective enough, though I imagine that every Circle player had been lighting candles in hopes that the heavy in the box would be the Warpwolf Stalker. With the usual heavy and two lights, it looks middle of the road, and the Pureblood can reach an extremely respectable P+S with its Controlled Warping plus the Gorax’s animus. The main hope is that the two higher defense Warbeasts can get lucky enough to avoid some critical attacks. But the lower armors pose a problem–particularly when a couple of the boxes can reliably light everything on fire. Certainly better than the prior Circle Orboros Starter Box, but then, a home-brew Minions Starter equivalent that’s nothing but Bull Snappers would be better than the tragedy that was the prior Circle Starter Box. This box has the biggest discord between promise of the feat and ability of the models, and slides pretty far in the rankings accordingly.
#7 – Beast Master Xekaar (down one from last week)
The “prior box but one model different” approach is happening in many of these Battlegroup Boxes. For Skorne, swapping one of two Cyclops Savages for a Cyclops Raider seems like an improvement, but I think it’s marginal at best. Maybe it’s the fact that the change to the Far Strike animus is meddling with me, but I don’t see this as providing too much utility. Even with the ability to shoot models with Stealth, that doesn’t really give much advantage in the Battlegroup setting (“look out, uh, Bane Witch Agathea’s army on the feat turn only…”). Don’t get me wrong though: this battlegroup will absolutely win games. The Titan Gladiator’s Grand Slam and Follow Up along have been the death of many warcasters and warlocks in my experience, and the force will continue riding that trick to victory. However, even if a trick is really, really good, it can only carry a force so far.
#8 – Lord Kozlov, Viscount of Scarsgrad (unchanged)
Yes, Khador Jacks are deadly, and super-well armored. They also rock a pretty nice MAT score in Mark III. The Juggernaut is a classic: a good cheap warjack that hits like a Soviet-era truck. I’m much more lukewarm on the Decimator. It’s like the Cryx Leviathan: pretty nasty shooting on a model that also has serious beatdown melee damage. In Journeyman Leagues the generalist model does pretty well. But the big problem, as always with Khador, is that they only have two Warjacks. Ultimately I think that brings them down a click. In smaller games like Journeyman games, often times they end because a model gets onto the Caster. While Kozlov has pretty good defense, one knockdown and he’s going to be hurting. With good placement, a force taking a shot at finishing him can simply delay the big heavy Khador jacks for a round with sacrificial models so even if they do fail to seal the deal with whatever reached Kozlov, when Khador mops up there’s still the opposing caster waiting to finish him–as every force has a numbers advantage here. Sure, the armor helps. But you don’t need to kill both Warjacks to win the game… and in piece trading and positioning two models leave little room for protection. That’s the only reason Skorne and Circle didn’t drop below this one.
#9 – Ragnor Skysplitter, the Runemaster (unchanged)
Trollbloods have always had three light warbeasts in their starter boxes, so I suppose it’s not a surprise that they get a repeat. The best that can be said is that at least it doesn’t contain TWO Troll Impalers like prior editions. Maybe it’s just me, but if Trollbloods were going to be stuck with a bunch of lights, then why not create a new plastic Slag Troll and make the box Slag, Pyre, and Storm. Or heck, swap in the Winter and Swamp if you must. Even though they do have three models (see the Khador comments above), I still cannot nudge the force upward over Khador. While each of these Trollblood Warbeasts are good in lots of lists, together they merely underwhelm. The Bouncer is a nice addition, but ultimately gives the group no more hitting power. Shield Guard when only 13 of the 34 models across all of the Battlegroup Boxes have ranged attacks is iffy at best. While this box will win games, it’s likely to be skill of the player and familiarity with the near-unchanged Axer and Impaler that wins the day rather than some inherent strength of the Warbeasts themselves. Not terrible, but no particular reason to move them up in ranking either.
Anyhow, that’s my second cut at ranking the Battlegroup Boxes, this time considering the relative strength of the Warjacks and Warbeasts. Tune in next week as the rankings will change as we look at the power of the Warcasters and Warlocks themselves Warmachine and Hordes Battleboxes. How will their abilities as warriors and spellcasters shake up the list? Who will go up? Who will move down? Check it out to see.
~ If you’ve got comments on the rankings, go ahead an share them below! Did we order important qualities correctly? Think we undercut a particular model’s impacy? Convinced that the eternally-cursed-with-three-light-beasts Trollbloods box will dominate all Warmachine and Hordes foes after all? Let us know in the comments section below!
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