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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Making the Witch Coven Work (part 2)

Alright 3++, let's finish our list building exercise on the Witch Coven of Garlghast today with part 2!  These ladies offer a lot of flexibility on the tabletop and are very different from any other warcaster in the entire game.  Consequently, they are often ignored as a choice because they are a bit intimidating when you're looking at building a list.  Added into that, Cryx is normally a pretty straight-forward faction, relying mostly upon their numbers and melee abilities that the Coven seem a little lackluster without crazy damage buffs.  In reality, these buffs come in disguise and the Coven has a great feat which can mitigate the fragility of most Cryx models.

Today I will look at a few models for consideration when taking the Witch Coven.  Lastly, I'll share a diagram to hopefully illustrate the power and effectiveness of the Coven on the tabletop.  Obviously, there are many situations you could find yourself in, but the example I will share will hopefully help you understand the true potential of the Coven.

Before I jump into looking at specific models, I want to share a couple of caveats.  I first want to say that I firmly think that the Coven will be at their best in a 50+ point list.  This is due to the variety of threats that the Coven can take in their own list, and their spells and abilities will allow them to deal with the additional threats your opponent might bring at that same level just as well as they would at lower levels.  That said, I will be building these ladies with 35 points in mind.  Also, I will try to avoid going too deep into their theme list for a couple of reasons.  While I think it is a solid theme list, it does require the most popular characters and in the character-restricted environment of SR2012, I want to see what we can build for these ladies that doesn't conflict with other warcasters, in case you want to consider the Coven for a steamroller tournament paired-up with another warcaster.  I'm specifically talking about including the Withershadow Combine and Deathjack here.

Okay, with that out of the way, let's look at a couple models which will be most effective with the Coven.

Seether: This is an already super effective warjack.  Unfortunately, the Seether is very expensive by Cryxian standards and doesn't offer extra survivability over the cheaper warjacks, but instead likes to flaunt it's focus efficiency and ridiculously high MAT of 8.  The Seether should be seriously considered with the Coven because it's focus efficiency helps the Coven spend their focus on casting spells instead of loading up the Seether with focus for getting into position.  Additionally, with his natively high MAT you can cast Infernal Machine on other targets instead, giving you two heavies which can deal with higher-DEF models.  Lastly, their feat will be great for allowing the Seether to get the alpha strike on your opponent since even ridiculous threat ranges will likely be nullified when your opponent can't even see him to charge!

Malice: This character 'jack was introduced in Warmachine: Wrath and I think will pair quite well with the Coven.  Since the Coven aren't soul collectors like most Cryxian warcasters, Malice can actually feel comfortable munching on some souls for messing around with enemy warjacks and/or boosting attack and damage rolls.  Since Malice can collect those souls, he can certainly make the most of getting allocated tons of focus too and then he can turn into an absolute monster and wreck most heavies.  Additionally, you can feel pretty comfortable walking up into the short range for the harpoon cannon on a bigger target since your feat turn will keep most enemy models from seeing him to try to charge him.

Iron Lich Overseer:  For a lot of the same reasons listed for Malice above, the ILO will be a pretty interesting fit for the Coven.  The Coven have lots of focus to dish out for their battlegroup but the ILO can collect souls that the Coven cannot, making his marshalled 'jacks have a significant presence on the battlefield too!  This allows you to run the Coven with a bunch of warjacks while having a surprisingly low focus commitment for them.

Harrower: The Harrower is already quite the favorite warjack among Cryxian warcasters but with the Coven he shines because they can offer him quite a lot!  Since the Harrower can also collect souls his efficiency with the Coven is even more exaggerated since he doesn't compete with them for souls (sensing a theme yet?).  While this should be no surprise given what we already mentioned above, the Harrower suffers in some respects compared to most Cryxian heavies in the MAT and SPD department - both of which are completely mitigated by Infernal Machine, making the Harrower quite scary to deal with.  Again, under the feat of the Coven his low-SPD and DEF are mitigated as well and you'll find that your opponent will have a hard time dealing with a Harrower so close in their face!

Those are just a couple of the models that I've considered when making a Coven list because their main strength is their spell casting and their focus will be better spent casting those spells than dolling it out to their warjacks.  So now let's take a look at some pretty diagrams which I think should illuminate some nifty tricks that the Coven have at their disposal.  Let's start with something easy.
Let's imagine that this is the top of the 3rd turn.  On your second turn you advanced slowly and popped your feat, Nightfall to protect your models from being charged or shot at.  Incidentally, your opponent realized that he needed LOS to rely on his Stormcalls to disrupt your 'jacks, and your feat would prevent him from doing so.  Your opponent is not a particularly smart Warmachine player and instead decides to run to engage your Soul Hunters since he couldn't do much else on his turn.  His Centurion is camping on ARM 24 thanks to Arcane Shield and the Stormclad is waiting to kill anything that gets past the Stormguard, also sitting on ARM 21 thanks to Fail Safe.  eNemo is sitting pretty comfortably back there, but little does he know that he is in big trouble this turn!

You can achieve an easy win with the Coven this turn and take advantage of your "Spiritual Spells" we discussed yesterday.  Here's how you can do it.  You can safely assume that at least 3 of your Soul Hunters could be in charge range of eNemo but the Firefly can cause problems with his reach weapon.  I decided not to include Darragh Wrathe in this particular example, but I'm sure you could realize how he might make this even easier.  Instead, we need to use some creative thinking to get to Nemo as well as taking advantage of our multiple activations.

1) Allocate 2 focus points onto the Harrower (7 left)
2) Activate one of your arc nodes and advance it into range of an unengaged Stormguard, for easy targeting for Curse of Shadows.
2) Activate the first witch and cast Curse of Shadows (5 left) onto the Stormguard through one arc node, followed by casting Infernal Machine (4 left) onto the Harrower.
4) The Harrower can now charge through the Stormguard to get to the Firefly.  At MAT 8 he'll likely hit with his attack, hopefully threshering and collecting the souls of at least one of the Stormguard.  Buy another two attacks and spend any souls to boost the damage and the Firefly should be in pretty rough shape if it survives at all.
5) The Harrower is now in the way!  Activate the second witch and cast Veil of Mists (2 left) covering the Harrower up so your own models can advance through him!  Note that if you didn't cripple the Firefly, you might have to alter your game plan a bit.
6) Issue a charge with your Soul Hunters against eNemo.  If they had a soul on them from the theme force benefit, they will easily be able to hit the old man and with boosted damage from the charge, 4 of them will make short work of him.  If Nemo is camping some focus, you can run rightmost arc node past the Stormguard into range of Nemo and hit him with a Curse of Shadows.

Granted, this is an extreme example but I hope it at least illustrates the kind of play you can expect from the Witches.  While you might not be able to bring the same might to bear as other Cryxian warcasters, you can simply ignore many elements of your opponents forces and run right by them.  Additionally, unlike the Incorporeal forces of some Cryx warcasters, most of your movement can't be ignored or stopped with magical weapons, and that's really significant because it means that your game plan will mostly always be the same.

With that little example, I would like to share a 35 point list that I really like for the Coven.  Admittedly, this uses their theme force, but you can save the characters for other lists if you used this in a tournament setting.

Coven (+5)
- Seether (9)
- Harrower (10)
- Nightwretch (4)
- Skarlock Thrall (2)
Darragh Wrathe (4)
Souhunters (max, 9)
Warwitch Siren (2)

In the example above I didn't include Darragh Wrathe but he offers so much for the Coven forces that it's hard not to take him - especially since you'll want to take Soulhunters with them anyway.  Not only does he make them incorporeal on their own activation (meaning you can save Curse of Shadows for when you really need it), but with the theme list they also each start with a soul token.  Since you'll be able to fairly reliably get the alpha strike with these guys, the extra soul token is a huge boon.  A Skarlock is always helpful but even moreso if you want to toss around and cycle spells like crazy (which the Coven can do).  An alternative version of this list replaced the Harrower and Seether with 3 Slayers so you can really spread around Infernal Machine to all of them in one turn, so you can also consider the option of running lots of helljacks with these ladies.
Death Ride is such a powerful spell that Darragh Wrathe finds
himself in many Cryx lists

In this list I only have one arc node but as long as you play fairly conservatively (note the placement in the example above), I think that one could be enough.  This is something that I would need to playtest and alas, I don't play Cryx really to playtest it.  I don't assume that I know everything but I think that the Witch Coven could be absolutely devastating when placed in the right hands and with lots of practice.  They have a lot of tricks and spells that completely ignore most defenses and the only bad match-up for them would be against any Circle army sporting a unit of Druids with Countermagic.  Even then, with multiple activations of your witches you can apply some nifty buffs for your own models to get to the druid leader and hopefully pop the bubble.

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