The Fork in the Road

I’m preparing for Journeyman League Week 2, and there has been a little grumbling from the experienced members of the group who dislike the Week 2 increase. 10 points limited to battlegroup only vastly limits people to choices of predominantly light jacks/beasts, and many are feeling these are not useful choices.

A couple of ideas have been thrown about as options:

  • Swap the points increases for Weeks 2 and 3
  • Allow a single beast swap in Week 2
  • Remove the battlegroup only restriction for Week 2

Given the context of the league, and having examined the consequences down-stream of these discussed options, I personally favour playing the league as published. There is no need to only play powerhouse models in the context of this league setting. In fact, the limited format challenge excites me in that I’ll need to play a cleaner and tighter game to engineer a board state that lets me overcome the built in disadvantage that I and my opponents share equally.

Considering the vast majority of my time playing Warmachine will be at agreed points limits with all options open, I’m all for keeping things as written. Especially considering I always write off the Cyclops Raider when I’m list building because I don’t like the model. In practice he’s already proven a solid choice in this league and I see a big place for him outside of it. For me personally he will still suffer the ‘ew, no’ exclusion clause of my ‘must like their looks’ list building filter, so until he’s given a rescuplt I’m not going to have many chances to play him.

Choosing a Path

  • Week 2 is still Mangled Metal so if I lose the battlegroup, I lose the game.
  • Warmachine light jacks seem fairly self-sufficient, making support seem less likely to be fielded.
  • All the battleboxes fielded in my group have guns. (Maybe all battleboxes do?)
  • Mortality + Enrage lets light beasts hit like heavies.

Given that I’m planning on following the league rules as my preferred option I’ve been closely looking at what is available. After all, a “bad” choice here carries through for the remainder of the league. As it happens, there’s only 3 choices I think are not worth consideration for Week 2. The rest are full of different answers, I just need to decide what the questions are.

Agonizer – It’s a trap. Ultimately I boiled it down to 2 reasons. First, and most importantly, it is 1-dimensional. A defensive piece that supports my other beasts with his -2 STR bubble, but will contribute nothing towards the elimination of their battlegroup. The second reason is that I have little to screen him with. Half my opponents have bouncing lightning damage, and all my opponents are capable of spiking 1-shot kills against him with their ranged options.

Reptile Hounds and Scarab Pack – Both have some game against enemy lights, but not enough especially given that losses will neuter their ability to meaningfully contribute. Their stand alone defensive stats aren’t very high even on the feat turn.

Basilisk Krea – The support the Krea offers in Week 2 is not the DEF vs ranged, but the 14″ threat from spiritual paralysis freeing more fury up for the other beasts to be buying attacks and boosting damage. Also, P+S 12 can be tuned up by Xekaar with Mortality and Enrage to useful levels, but the Krea’s starting MAT here lets it down a bit. There’s further potential buried in the Krea choice but it would essentially lock me into picking a Drake up in Week 3 or 4.

Basilisk Drake – A ranged option with the P+S 14 spray (remember – Mortality is just as useful to ranged attacks as melee ones) and even better at getting the tune-up for melee power than the Krea is with a higher starting MAT. As shield guard can’t be used on sprays, will have a lot of game against any support choices the enemy makes going forwards. The Drake can operate as a stand-alone choice, and I don’t feel I would be locking into taking a Krea in a future week if I make this choice.

Cyclops Brute – Talk about being able to take a charge. The Brute looks like it’ll be truly amazing under Xekaar’s feat, as with Set Defense he hits defensive stats of 18/20 against charges, plus Intuition and Safeguard. If I decide I need someone to eat the charge then retaliate, the Brute is looking like a pretty good Week 2 buy. Plus Shield Guard for defending Xekaar or future models against ranged assassination etc.

Cyclops Raider – Having been getting so much work done by the compulsory Cyclops Raider, I am certainly considering doubling-up on the tactic. Well, so long as I don’t look at the sculpt again… Speed 6 shouldn’t be underestimated in the range game as the Raider has a total threat range of 22″ under Rush. For example: When going second, if they run a SPD5 heavy straight forward on their first turn, I can take a double-boosted POW 14 shot on my turn. Two such shots if this is the Week 2 pick.

Cyclops Savage – Along the same vein as the Raider reason above, this is another double-up. The Savage gets to great power levels for a light. He never needs his own animus, making him fury efficient whenever average rolls are made, and with a visit to the Xekaar tune-shop he hits harder than an un-buffed Gladiator, doing solid work to other lights as well as heavies. SPD 6 with 2″ reach gives him good board coverage and threat, especially with Rush.

Cyclops Shaman – Mortality, Mortality, Mortality. I keep talking about how it and Enrage turn lights into much scarier beasts. Well, the Shaman can amplify the range for Mortality by 20%, keeping Xekaar safer. He can remove enemy upkeep debuffs, has the same range and animus option as a Raider, and his gun is almost as powerful. He helps put Rush out as needed and while only a borderline P+S 11 he is still SPD 6 with 2″ reach when needed. The biggest issue with the Shaman is his armour value. If he gets caught he has little chance at survival. I consider him our best utility light beast, but in the context of a Week 2 pick he’s up against some serious competition.

Razor Worm – Ahh the Razor Worm. The very first model I ever purchased for Skorne, and I really like this guy in Mk3 (on paper, no game time yet.) He will be tried out as one of my “secret weapons” in several lists in the future. As a Week 2 pick, Dig in and Spiny Growth means under Xekaar’s feat the Worm potentially caps out at 20/20 vs ranged attacks (immune to blast) or 16/20 against melee! Long Leash and AD can give a massive distraction tool and get them to split their forces while you threaten the assassination from early on.

Right this moment, I am leaning towards picking between a Drake, Brute, Shaman, or Worm.

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