My Thoughts on the New Novice Warcasters

I am a bit late to this party, but summer has been crazy.

When Privateer Press announced the new Novice Warcasters as part of their recent Kickstarter, I was pretty excited.  I always love new models, and new mechanics are always particularly exciting.  I have long envied Cygnar’s Journeyman Warcaster, so the notion of getting similar effects in the factions I play (Protectorate, Cryx, and Mercenaries) had me salivating right off the bat.  In addition, these models made perfect sense, as yet another step in PiP’s recent trend away from infantry swarms and towards advancing the investment in warjacks/warbeasts.   Heavy armor is what got me into this game, so I am always ready for anything that helps make that paradigm more viable.  So, do I think the Novice Warcasters will succeed in this department?  Let’s take a look:

General Observations:

Most of the stats for the novices are pretty decent.  Given the ability to boost, their MAT and RAT sure doesn’t surprise me.  I do think one of the major problems with the novices is going to be their survivability.  I would hope that warcasters-in-training wouldn’t pop like a balloon to a lucky deviation, but with an average ARM of 14 and only 5 health boxes, it is fully feasible for a healthy novice to wind up dead when a Judicator deviates onto its head.  I think that will have a huge impact on if, and how, these models are run.  I doubt anyone is going to want to attach melee jacks to their novice and run them into the fray with that level of mortality.  I was really happy to see FOC 4 on these models; 1 more than the standard Cygnar Journeyman.  That makes them much more likely to tap into multiple roles: upkeeping spells while feeding a battlegroup, running multiple jacks, etc.  I do think the point cost is awesome.  2 pts would have been too cheap, anymore than 3 probably too expensive.  PiP hit the sweet spot there.  I think the range of spells, offensive options, and versatility make me want to run these models, but how did each faction fare?  Here is my ranking of the six:

  1. Gastone Cross
  2. Aiakos
  3. Andrei Malakov
  4. Allison Jakes
  5. Tristan Durant
  6. Elara

Gastone Cross

Cross has a lot going for him.  Moving Shadows and Fire Group are fabulous spells, and will make Cross want ranged jacks.  That will keep him safer than having to go into melee.  Getting Vanguards for 4 points is pretty crazy, especially when they can assault with RNG 10 shots.  Think about the tactical options you get with Cross and a pair of vanguards, all for 11 points.  Cross gets especially scary with a Galleon, if you are willing to take that chance.  Also, the fact that he can be taken in Cygnar and the Protectorate gives him another bump.  Finally, he has a gun with ROF 2, which gives him yet another dimension.  i just see great combinations for this model.  As a Merc player myself, I am looking forward to Cross, although I think I will need a 2nd Vanguard before he really shines.

Aiakos

Aiakos brings a great deal to the table:  stealth, jump, and a drag harpoon all make him a dangerous solo in his own right.  In fact, at first glance I found Aiakos to be good more for what he himself can do rather than what he does for warjacks.  However, Escort is a superb spell, and also gets Aiakos’ ARM stat relatively high.  All together, Aiakos can be a real pain himself.  Deathbringers will also be really nice against Hordes armies, especially trolls.  It is interesting to think about which ‘jacks to bring with Aiakos.  I can see a pair of Scavengers to really make use of Escort, but I can also see a pait of Seethers.  Since Seethers get effectively 2 free focus, you can have Aiakos upkeep Escort, put a focus on both Seethers, and camp 1.  Then he is commanding two MAT 8, SPD 8 warjacks that are effectively able to spend a full 3 focus.  That, especially for casters like Deneghra, could be mindblowing.  As a Cryx player myself, I am very excited about Aiakos.

Andrei Malakov

When Malakov appeared in a No Quarter scenario and brought Redline to the table, my Khador playing friend about wet himself.  Being able to mitigate that SPD 4 on whichever warjack he wanted was a dream for a Khador player.  I never thought the faction would see the spell proper, but it has happened.  That alone makes Malakov good; he alone mitigates the single biggest weakness in Khador.  His defensive stats are garbage, but he can also Sucker! all day long, which should help.  Otherwise, Malakov is pretty meh.  However, Redline-on-a-stick is just that good for Khador.

Allison Jakes

Jakes isn’t bad at all, but she isn’t as good as the above.  In addition, she will always have the vanilla Cygnar Journeyman to be compared to, and Arcane Shield is good stuff.  However, Sidekick is a tremendous spell, and will present some great challenges when you have 2 very high DEF parry models running around (Jakes and a Hunter, for example).  Otherwise though, I don’t really see what Jakes brings.  I suppose, as another source of focus for some ranged jacks, she is good, but that is why she is in fourth place…

Tristan Durant

Alright, the Novice Warcaster in the jack faction; unfortunately he is kind of underwhelming.  Giving a warjack +2 ARM is certainly good, but that will require Durant stay near the front lines.  He does bring True Sight, but with just a RNG 8 spell to make use of it, I doubt it is going to matter much.  So effectively Durant is going to power up a melee jack’s ARM and try to stay alive.  There are good combinations; an ARM 23 Templar smashing through the enemy lines is pretty hard to take down.  Unlike Cross, Aiakos, etc – he lacks versatility.  I think that is going to be his defining characteristic, and why I put him so low on the list.  As a Protectorate player, I am still excited to have more jacks running around.  And I may need a Templar to make use of that ARM…

Elara

Elara seems like she could have been good, but instead I think she missed the mark.  She appears to want to be in melee, yet just doesn’t seem survivable enough.  Thus, She defines the core Novice Warcaster conundrum.  Battle Charged, Side Step, Extraction – all of things point Elara towards melee, and yet I think the investment in warjacks is going to be too high for her.  If she was more of a personal threat like Aiakos (acrobatics, perhaps) I could see the lists where she would make the cut.  As it is though, I am underwhelmed.

There ya go: some quick thoughts about these forthcoming models.  What do you think?  Are you picking any up?  Are you excited?  Disappointed?  Let me know in the comments!

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My Thoughts on the Armies: Cryx

Cryx

There’s a reason they’re know as “The Nightmare Empire”, they can be an absolute nightmare to face at times. They just do a lot of things well. They can go with the glass cannon approach and hit like a ton of bricks. They can bring masses of infantry that can bolster themselves through respawn mechanics and wear you down through attrition. Several casters can shut down your army through debuff spells and feats. They have some of the most powerful casters in the game with some amazing feats. Their weaknesses would probably be low armor and a less than dominant ranged game. They won’t be going toe to toe with a Khadoran jack and trading blows(unless they are able to stack some of their crazy good debuffs) and they probably won’t beat you with a gun line. This doesn’t mean that they don’t have any good ranged options because they do, just that they probably won’t center an army around that strategy.

Some people feel that Cryx has a few too many abilities and their casters are broken. I agree that they have some very good ones but they are all beatable. They just might give their army a little more room for error than some other factions. I like to call them the “Tryx” faction because outside of Legion, I don’t think any other faction has more ways to ignore game rules.

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My Thoughts on the Armies: Skorne

So with all the new players that we’ve been seeing at the LGS lately, I’ve heard a lot of the old sages being approached for general overviews of the factions. Now I don’t consider myself and expert or anything but I thoroughly enjoy the debate on different factions and units strengths and weaknesses so I thought why not write a blog about it! Starting with …

Skorne

I have often been amazed at the lack of Skorne players in our local meta. I look at Skorne and I see amazing assassination vehicles(Molik Karn), extremely durable infantry(Cataphract), some of the most widely acclaimed beasts in the game(Bronzeback) and amazing support models. I always wondered why they didn’t seem to catch on, then I went to Lock and Load and discovered this was only a local phenomenon. I think I saw more Skorne armies than the other Hordes factions combined and I can see why.
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Review: Instruments of War

Trigger Warning: violence, discussion of sexism

Disclaimer: I am a Press Ganger for Privateer Press, and I play Skorne as my primary army. I have had no contact with Privateer Press about this review, nor have they discussed any of this with me.

Instruments of War is a new novella from Privateer Press (through their Skull Island eXpeditions label) that details Makeda’s rise to become Archdomina of House Balaash. It provides an interesting perspective into one of the more iconic characters of the Iron Kingdoms.

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