Hot Take: Khador theme drop

After frantically checking War Room for updates every five minutes for the past week or so, the new content that we have been waiting for has finally arrived.  New themes for every model in every faction of the game, and old themes tweaked with the addition of mercenaries.  It’s Christmas come early for Warmachine players.

In Khador, we had both of our new themes spoiled already, and I already did a hot take on the Man-O-War theme, so I’m not going into too much detail on that one.  Suffice it to say that it lets you run a brick of MoW Shocktroopers, and we won’t find out its true potential until we get our new toys sometime in 2018.

Anyways, let’s take a look here, starting with our new Greylord theme…

Wolves of Winter

wolves.pngLet’s get this out of the way first:  Unfortunately, you can’t start the game with upkeeps on your Doom Reavers.  It is a bit of a shame, and does put a damper on the dream of what a Doomie Spam list can do with an upkeep-heavy caster like Strakhov2, but there might still be some game in this theme.  Unfortanately, I’m kind of an axe to face guy, so I don’t have the experience with the Greylord side of Khador to comment with too much expertise on this, but that hasn’t stopped me before.  Let’s see if we can have some fun list-building with this…

List:  Vlad3 is good, right?
Theme:  Wolves of Winter

Vladimir Tzepesci, Great Prince of Umbrey (Vlad3)
– Drago
– Juggy

Fenris
Greylord Forge Seer (free)
Greylord Forge Seer (free)
Koldun Lord (free)

Doom Reaver Swordsmen
Doom Reaver Swordsmen
Greylord Outriders
Greylord Outriders

vlad3-pic-large.pngVlad3 isn’t usually considered a competitive caster, with the general consensus being that he’s not bad, he’s just the third-best Vlad.  Still, there may be something here, at least for a funsies list.  Since you can start with your upkeeps out, Hand of Fate is great on Greylord Outriders because of the sheer amount of extra dice you are chucking with those sprays.  Infernal machine can go on either of your warjacks.  Wind Wall can help protect a unit of Doomies on the advance from getting shot down on the way in, and between Apparition and Dash, your Doomies can threat 14 inches, which according to my math, is legit.  Murdering everything with sprayponies with Hand of Fate and sending in a bunch of Doomies to finish off whatever is left seems fun.  Vlad’s feat can affect the Outriders and Fenris, priming them to strike again after the initial alpha, or retreat off to some annoying position on the flank where they are going to be hard to deal with.  Competitive?  Not sure yet.  Fun?  Well, I’m going to be hitting the painting table…

Theme tweaks

In addition to the new themes, we’ve got a few tweaks to our existing themes.  In general, the big addition to our existing theme forces is the addition of mercenaries.  This is huge for Khador; there are a number of merc solos out there that for a few points, can patch some holes in our lists and fix some struggles we’ve been having lately with certain armies that have been challenging matchups for us (hello, Ghost Fleet and Gremlin Swarms).

There are a few things to note though. First, you can take mercs that have the Partisan (Khador) rule, which means that you can add a unit of Kayazys to your theme force of choice.  Second, Valachev is available as an attachment to a merc unit, so you can make them friendly Faction.

Most curiously, a couple of themes restrict the mercenaries you can take to non-character solos (Winter Guard Kommand) or units (Legion of Steel).  From what I can tell, Khador is the only faction that is faced with this restriction, which makes sense, because you know how all the other factions get when we get nice things.  I’m guessing there must have been some sort of completely broken combination in there, though I haven’t quite figured out what it would have been yet.

The Good

The thing that I am most excited about in this theme drop is the potential to take mercenary units in Winter Guard Kommand, particularly Lady Aiyana & Master Holt.  One of the major weaknesses with WGK which was really showing in a world of Ghost Fleet and Gremlin Swarms was a total lack of magic weapons aside from your caster and Andy, who ideally should be nowhere near combat anyways.  With Aiyana’s ability to make the weapons of a model/unit magical, incorporeal opponents like Gremlin Swarms and Blackbane’s Raiders can be easily countered.  Fortunately, we now have an answer to this…

 

sorscha3.JPG

My Sorscha2 conversion — because Irusk2 wasn’t top-heavy enough of a model

List:  Suck it, Ghost Fleet
Theme:  Winter Guard Kommand

 

Forward Kommander Sorscha
– Spriggan
– Marauder

Kovnik Joe

Winter Guard Rifle Corps
– Rocketeers x3
Winter Guard Rifle Corps
– Rocketeers x3
Winter Guard Infantry
– WGI Officer & Standard (free)
– Rocketeers x3
Winter Guard Mortar Crew (free)

Aiyana & Holt
– Valachev

As you can tell, this list is designed to do one thing and one thing only:  Make Ghost Fleet players cry.  By hot-swapping shatterstorm between the two units of Rifle Corps, you can threaten to RFP from 22″ away (with Desperate Pace).  Since RFPed stuff doesn’t come back, you can shut down the Cryx recursion engine pretty quickly, and you won’t have to worry about Tough if they drop their Bane list.  Spriggan is there to threaten to drop a flare on Denny1 and take away her Stealth, and Aiyana & Holt can hand out magic weapons so you can take out the Wraith Engine and Blackbane’s Raiders.

The Meh

Jaws of the Wolf, the theme that I’ve been using most often, got a bit of a sidegrade.  In addition to the mercs now available in-theme, we are now able to take Yuri the Axe as a free model.  At six points, Yuri was kind of expensive for what he did, and a key linchpin of the Yuri/Manhunters/Kossites package.  Being able to take him for free is going to make that package a little more attractive.

Unfortunately, we lost the ability to deny Advance Deploy to our opponents, trading it instead for denying Ambush.  Right now, this feels like a downgrade because there is a lot more AD out there than Ambush.  While the stock on this may go up as more themes grant ambush to more units, units which may do a lot more damage than our ambushing units (sorry, Kossites)

The Disappointments

There was one big disappointment for me, and that is Assault Kommandos.  They got added to the Winter Guard theme, however they gain no benefits and offer no benefits to the theme, and feel like more of an afterthought than anything.  They just don’t fit in, either thematically, or from a list design perspective.

ak1.JPG

Hope you like that shelf…

Honestly, I think they got put in the wrong theme.  Had they been placed in Jaws, you would be able to make some pretty interesting Strakhov1 lists, the sort that I was running before the rise of thememachine.  Right now, the only reason I can possibly think to use them would be if you’re playing Vlad1 and you’re really really worried about cloudwalls.  But even then…ugh…

What else is out there?

Cygnar got their trencher theme, so expect to see Haley3 making a comeback. If only we had some sort of Kommando unit that would be good at Assaulting trenchers… Cryx also got a couple new themes, so that could mix up their usual Ghost Fleet/Dark Host pairing and since they’re the one you have to tech for these days, it could pose new challenges.  Apart from that, I haven’t looked at what all the other factions have gotten and am probably not good enough at this game to understand what it means, but I’m sure the meta will settle out and find some broken-ass theme that is going to dominate for the next couple months.

Conclusions

These changes have been hyped for a while, and it was inevitable that we would find something that wouldn’t live up to the hype and be disappointed.  I will admit to being excited about Assault Kommandos finally having their place only to have them remain on my shelf until they get a theme force or UA or something.  That said, I don’t think it was a bad day for Khador.  Just from the ability to include mercs in our theme forces, we gained a lot and got a lot of difficult matchups fixed.  models like Aiyana & Holt can fill holes in many of our lists and make things that were a challenge for us to deal with previously trivially easy.

I see some salt out there on the Khador facebook group, and to my comrades, I have one thing to say.

This is Khador.  We of the north do not turn green with envy at the luxuries of others.  We are made of tougher stuff than that.  We redouble our efforts and fight harder; we don’t go around crying about things like a bunch of whiny Cygnar players.  There is still tech to be unlocked and future releases to come out, and I’m sure everything will be all right, so long as we have our axes to insert into the faces of those who oppose the motherland.

With this release, it feels like we’re finally in Warmachine Mk.III as intended.  We can use just about every model on the shelf in some way, and I’m sure we will find some fun, powerful lists in this release — as will our opponents!