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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
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"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Monday, January 30, 2012

Guest Article:The Juggernaut dilemma - why we love it but rarely field it

The following was written by a friend of mine and fellow Khador player: Chain_Gun for the Khador section of the PP forums. I find it is very true for Khador but also speaks towards the use of Warjacks in general. Thanks Chain_Gun for writing this up for us and I hope to hear more from you!

While most Khador players agree that the Juggernaut is a great warjack for its points, looking at most lists we see people tend to choose other warjacks for actual play. I feel that even though these cheapies give good, or even great value, when lists are compiled, it is Beast-09, the Kodiak, Torch or the Behemoth who usually see play. In this writeup I will try to explain why. While I use the Juggernaut as an example, I would like to expend the discussion to the other cheap warjacks as well, the Marauder and the Berserker.

Due to general lack of battle group spells in Khador, many Khadoran warcasters tend to run warjack light armies. When you have a warcaster who can effectively control only 1-2 warjacks, you want your focus investment to be effective. If I'm going to invest all of my focus on a warjack, I want it to be:
-Very effective at killing stuff, and/or
-Be versatile and offer me value even when it's not in melee

Looking at these two criteria, we see that Beast-09 and Torch are super effective at killing in melee while the Spriggan, the Kodiak and the Behemoth offer versatility which extends beyond merely killing stuff in melee. Looking at the Juggernaut, the Marauder and the Berserker, on the other hand, they offer little versatility and their deadliness is eclipsed by the more expensive warjacks.

Let's analyze warjack pricing. We pay for warjacks twice:
1. Before the beginning of the game we make an initial payment in form of points,
2. After the game starts, we pay each turn in focus points. The first form of payment varies from warjack to warjack but the second form is fixed: it is always 1-3 focus. Understanding this, we can now see that since we pay for a warjack twice, the effective gap between the Juggernaut and beast-09, for example, is actually smaller than 4 points (feels like 2 to me). This is why we are usually willing to pay for a more expensive warjack in exchange for better functionality: they are effectively less expensive than the cheap ones once we look at the full "pricing scheme".

So, is it never effective to take a Juggernaut or a Berserker? No. I think the best usage of cheap warjacks is en masse. People in this forum often feel that ARM 20 is not enough to ensure survivability. That a Juggernaut or even a Behemoth will die to any dedicated assault, be it infantry, Focus laden Warjack or a furious warbeast. “Since ARM 20 and 34 boxes don’t save my warjack,” they feel “it is fragile and as a faction, our promise of a tough faction is broken”. In a sense, they are correct.

A single ARM 20 Khadoran warjack with a pathetic DEF and 7.5” threat range will die to any dedicated attack: any infantry charge, any warjack assault. Unless there are 3 or 4 of them. While most armies will easily get rid of a single Khador heavy, not many armies are able to crack several of them at the same time and survive the retaliation. A Khadoran wall of iron consisting of 3-5 heavy warjacks with ARM 18-21 poses a strategic problem most armies can’t solve easily. They may kill one or two on the initial attacks, but the retaliation of the surviving warjacks will be harsh. The thing is, if you wish to run a lot of warjacks, you need to get cheap ones, and this is where you need Juggernauts, Berserkers and Marauders.

To sum it all up: it is usually not very cost effective to run a single cheap warjack. If you want to run only one or two warjacks, better get the versatile and deadly ones. But if you want to shove a wall of iron down your opponent’s throat, the best solution is probably a host of cheap, heavy warjacks which will pose a considerable challenge to most factions and warcasters.

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