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"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Making Amon Ad-Raza work

Greetings ladies and gentlemen, today I have another wonderful treat for you from the Steam-Powered Gamer, but first, some personal news.  Last week I proposed to my amazing girlfriend in front of the Hogwarts Express in Harry Potter World, at Universal Studios in Orlando FL.  We are now happily engaged (her response was: "Challenge accepted!") and she has created a blog to share the story of our planning of an amazing steampunk wedding!

I apologize for my digression.  Today I want to share with you all some recent thoughts that I have had regarding a particular warcaster: Amon Ad-Raza.  Did you know that there are only two warcasters who do not have steam-powered armor?  One of them is Amon Ad-Raza (no steam-powered backpack), but can you think of another one?  Whoops, I digress again.  It must me one of those days!  I want to talk about Amon because he seems to be another one of those warcasters that is often overlooked for his more "tournament worthy" brethren, and Amon has a special place in my heart because he piqued my interest back in Mk I when I originally played Menoth.  So today I want to give Amon my full attention to see if we can bring him back to his former glory.  If you've been following my articles, you'll know that we usually start by analyzing either the feat or the spell list first, and this time we'll start with Amon's feat.

Amon's feat is very interesting indeed and it sets the tone for the rest of how his force will play.  One thing we have not discussed in my articles too much is activation order, and perhaps I or another author will spend some time in the future discussing the importance of this in Warmachine/Hordes in the future.  Amon's feat has two effects.  The first states that he grants warjacks in his battlegroup Perfect Balance and the second states that for each focus point he spends, he can allocate one focus point to a warjack in his battlegroup.  This feat is great both offensively and defensively, as Perfect Balance means that your warjacks won't suffer from free-strikes and they cannot be targeted with a combined attack (melee or ranged!).  It also means that for a focus 6 warcaster, he doesn't have to choose on his feat turn whether he wants to cast spells or allocate focus - he can do both!  This practically gives him an extra 6 focus points for one turn, but with some obvious limitations.  What this basically means is that in order to make the most of his feat turn, we'll want to utilize two particular solos: the Heirophant (to make a spell cheaper) and Wracks (to get an extra focus point).  By essentially giving him 7 focus and making one spell cheaper, Amon is able to make the most of his feat and potentially sit on a couple too if you're worried that he might get damaged.

Like I said, to make the most of the feat, Amon will probably want to activate early in your turn so that you can cast some spells and allocate focus to your warjacks so they can do what they do best (kill stuff).  This actually works out well for Amon because his spell list also suggests that Amon will be activating early in many of your turns.  Convection is a pretty straight forward offensive spell but on your feat turn it can be fun to give yourself even more focus to allocate to your warjacks on your feat turn, if you have the focus to spend on the spell to begin with.  However, Amon will usually be more interested in casting his other spells.   

Mobility is a great spell where you get the most mileage out of having a large battlegroup, giving everyone +2 SPD (including Amon!).  This is a solid spell and will generally allow you to be more mobile (heh, imagine that) which is huge considering Menoth 'jacks are notorious for their low SPD values.  This can also bump Amon to SPD 8, giving himself a 13" threat range alone, suggesting that he might even go for the assassination run by himself.  Flagellation goes even further to suggest that Amon is capable of assassinating a foe, but you should not rely on it!  If the opportunity arises, it might be worth trying, depending on your target, but usually Amon will be better off letting his warjacks do the heavy lifting for him.  That leaves us with his last, and signature spell: Synergy.  This spell is fairly straight forward but with some interesting implications, coming back to the issue of activation order.  Naturally, you'll want to activate a member(s) of the battlegroup that will have an easier time hitting or damaging their targets first, so that later members can hit more easily.  Thankfully, Menoth does have Choir to help their warjacks with efficiency, but this spell can cause Menoth 'jacks to wreck most anything with relative ease.

While Amon's spell list is relatively short, he does have some other great abilities which give him potential to stay survivable or kill enemy warcasters by himself.  First, he automatically has Perfect Balance, giving him resistance to CRA/CMA (situationally useful) but it also means that he ignores free strikes - solid in case someone tries to tie you down.  While Amon can stand up for free, he can still technically be knocked down, but combined with Groundwork, however, being knocked down is less of an issue for Amon, meaning he'll be even more difficult to take out with your standard array of assassination tricks.

Okay before we actually make a list with Amon, what do we learn from his abilities?  Well he has zero spell support for infantry and a lot of spells to help his battlegroup.  He has some defensive abilities against tricks, but against targets who rely on their high MAT anyway, he'll be suffering with only DEF 16 and a low ARM, as he can potentially get killed with one boosted damage roll from a heavy.  Essentially, Amon wants to stay in the mid-field and let his warjack wall smash things to pieces and wait for the opportunity to throw himself into the mix or just out-maneuver your opponent.  This is tricky, however, when you only have Mobility and Synergy to keep your jacks from dealing damage added damage (although Synergy can be brutal with lots of warjacks!).  Choir will be crucial here, and any Amon list should probably include two units of these suckers.

Those of you who've checked my blog this week will know that I already walked through to this point on my blog, but here I want to diverge a little bit.  Menoth is a faction that relies heavily on synergies between units in order for them to be most effective - especially with their warjacks.  Menoth lists will typically be able to drive warjacks to levels of annoyance that can propel them beyond their relatively meager statline.  With Amon Ad-Raza, however, I think that this typical approach is not going to be as helpful.  Amon's 'jack boosting spells are more effective as they affect more targets, while most Menoth support is really good at making one warjack really awesome, so I think that we need to take a new approach with Amon than you might otherwise with another Menoth warcaster.  Additionally, Amon does not provide any support to infantry, meaning that the old Menoth standbys are not going to be as effective as they should be.

With those things said, there are two routes I think you can generally go with Amon, but both involve taking as many warjacks as possible: heavy or light.  The weakness with the former is that Synergy won't ramp up to a very high level, since you'll have fewer heavy warjacks on the table, but they will be better able to take the hits than if you take lots of light warjacks.  In essence, with more light warjacks you sacrifice survivability for offensive power.  On my blog, I created a list that I think will be highly effective against multiple types of lists, but here I want to present the light-warjack spam list for Amon and discuss its strengths:

Amon Ad-Raza (+6)
- Dervish (4)
- Dervish (4)
- Dervish (4)
- Dervish (4)
- Dervish (4)
- Devout (5)
- Vigilant (4)
- Hierophant (2)
Choir (min, 2)
Choir (min, 2)
eEiryss (3)
Gorman Di Wulfe (2)
Wracks (1)

 The first feature, of course, is the number of light warjacks.  A Dervish can be brutal with Synergy and their Combo Strike, especially with the help of Choir.  With Mobility and their Side Step, these guys can run rampant over the battlefield striking the weakest parts of your opponent's lines.  They're also cheap!  The Devout has been added for Shield Guard to keep Amon safer from ranged attacks and the Vigilant is there to bodyguard Amon and prevent him from taking any blast damage (as Amon is vulnerable to boosted blast damage rolls).  Lastly, Gorman is useful in a pinch, as Black Oil bombs are the meanest thing known in Warmachine, but his Smoke Bombs are also great for giving Amon some extra protection as well.  Amon is a fairly vulnerable warcaster, since he'll often be spending all of his focus, so these defensive measures will help to keep him alive long enough to deliver your wave of slicing Dervishes.

As mentioned previously, the Heirophant and Wracks will allow Amon to throw out more spells or focus points to his warjacks and makes his feat turn just that much better.  Lastly, with some available points, either Eiryss fits into the list, but you need to be careful with her placement because you'll be running with a lot of warjacks.  You'll be better off running her alone along a flank and hopefully being able to draw some LOS laterally to the enemy warcaster when the time comes.

Like I mentioned, this list looks very different from the one I wrote on my own blog but I figured I'd share an alternative list for Amon that I think will be just as effective.  What this list lacks for in survivability, it makes up for in sheer killyness.  Admittedly, this list might be annoyed by infantry spam since you have to rely on the number of Dervish attacks, but the speed and maneuverability of your battlegroup might make that less of an issue anyway.


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