Thursday, March 6, 2014

Warmachine: Vengeance - Retribution of Scyrah Review

Hot on the heels (kinda sorta) of my rundown of Khador's releases, this is a similar rundown of the new releases for the Retribution of Scyrah in Warmachine: Vengeance. Since I took care of the preamble and "winning vs. losing a release cycle" rant in the previous post, we can skip all that and dive right into the models!

Starting off the list at #6 is Retribution's journeyman warcaster, Elara, Tyro of The Third Chamber. I don't know a lot about Retribution's fluff (I used up most of my nerd energy reading Khador's fluff back in the day but I don't keep up with it anymore,) so I'm just going to guess The Third Chamber is an organization that specializes in odd abilities that don't come together in any particularly great way. Elara's rules are kind of a mess - getting her into melee combat to use her cooler special rules is probably a precursor to her demise and Counter Charge is neat but not amazing on any Retribution warjack. Of all the new character journeyman models, I feel like Elara is the one that ended up with the weirdest set of rules.

All that said, she has two factors that redeem her in my eyes. First: extra focus for running warjacks is always good, and (similar to Khador) Retribution has a number of 'casters who would be all too happy to offload their second heavy onto Elara for her to fuel. Second: there are rumors that another wave of Retribution lights are incoming in the future, and there is always the possibility that one or more of those lights would be especially useful with her (if nothing else because she can fuel one or two lights all on her own.) Even though her rules suite is underwhelming, I'm still very much looking forward to having Elara as an option thanks to her ability to run a warjack or two on her own.

Next up at #5 is the newest addition to Retribution's stable of excellent units, the Mage Hunter Infiltrators. Retribution getting a new unit was an interesting surprise this release cycle, because their set of infantry units is already pretty damn stacked. Thankfully the Infiltrators have their own niche that gives them some distinction apart from the other two Retribution melee units, the Dawnguard Sentinels and the Houseguard Halberdiers. Infiltrators are the most "skirmishy" of the three melee units, with higher DEF and inherent Stealth, and they maintain the spell/spellcaster hate found on the Mage Hunter Strike Force (arguably dialed up a notch.) While this unit hasn't exactly blown the doors off the faction, I think that's more a factor of Retribution already being stacked with great units. Considered on their own merits the Infiltrators are a damn solid unit, and I'm sure there are plenty of list builds that will appreciate what they bring to the table.

Related to the Infiltrators is the entry I'm putting at #4: Eiryss, Mage Hunter Commander (Eiryss3), the newest epic incarnation of everyone's favorite elven mage hunter. Eiryss has learned how to be a team player and has switched over from being a supremely potent disruption solo (literally and generally) to a career as a unit attachment for Mage Hunter units. She brings some very nice bonuses as a UA (Advanced Deploy, Reform, Fearless,) but what's most remarkable about her is that, like most character UAs, she is a very capable model all on her own. She's got two melee attacks and her trademark RAT 9 crossbow shot, all with Arcane Assassin and Weaponmaster, and Arcane Hemmorage on any attacks of hers that connect (strips Focus and Fury on the model, and upkeep spells cast by that model expire.) This combination of abilities and attacks makes Eiryss3 a compelling attachment for both Mage Hunter units, though the raw potency of Phantom Hunter from the Mage Hunter Commander is damn hard to beat. I feel like she's more likely to be attached to the Infiltrators (especially since they have no competing UAs,) but there is some interesting merit and potential with messing around with her attached to the MHSF.

[Reasoning aside: Similar to the Outriders vs. the IFK, I think the Infiltrators and Eiryss3 are very close in terms of faction impact. The main reason I rate Eiryss3 higher is that she's essentially the UA for the Infiltrators and I really like what she does for them. I feel like the Infiltrators are more compelling with Eiryss3 in the picture and she's an option for another unit, so she feels like she has more impact. Plus Arcane Hemmorage gives Retribution some interesting anti-Hordes tech which bumps her up another notch.]

Moving into the top three, things get pretty damn contentious. Out of the "good" releases for Retribution in Vengeance, the best of them are damn good. On top of that, one of those releases isn't even out yet, so I'm going off of internet musings and gut reactions. But that's the fun of this whole exercise, right?

With that in mind, I'm going to put Retribution's new character warjack Imperatus at the #3 slot. That's not to disparage it at all; I think Imperatus is an absolute beast. Very good melee capabilities, a good gun, and crazy good resilience for a heavy warjack; nothing at all to complain about with him. But I think PP also did a very good job of balancing Imperatus: he (I'm assuming here; can't check myrmidon gender easily) plays up roles that Retribution was lacking before which makes him very useful, but it also means that he's not necessarily a warjack you're just going to toss into just any list (especially with character restrictions in the mix.) On his own Imperatus will do a damn fine job of doing damage and taking more effort to bring down than he "should", but the places where he's going to shine the most are going to be the lists that really enhance his strong suits. That's exciting in a big way because the best places to deploy Imperatus seem to be with less traditional 'casters - both Vyros - and he's not just another strong piece you bring with the already commonly seen Retribution warcasters. In that sense, I think Imperatus has a big impact on the faction (especially since the lists that make good use of him are likely to be pretty nasty,) but he can only be in one list out of a set.

However, the entry at #2 can be in every list. Point of fact, you can have two of them in every list! That's because, along with his many other fine features, the Houseguard Thane is FA: 2. And unlike some other solos, there is a fair chance you may want two of these guys. The Houseguard Thane was a lightning bolt to the heart of Retribution list building, breathing amazing life into both 10 model Houseguard units. The Houseguard Halberdiers have always been well regarded (for good reason - they're awesome "cheap" Reach infantry,) but the Houseguard Riflemen have traditionally been pretty maligned. In a faction loaded with great shooting options, the Riflemen failed to have a distinct role, despite the efforts of the UA to make them sort of a "long-then-short range shooting" unit. That all changed with the Houseguard Thane - now the Riflemen are a fantastic solution to Stealth infantry (and possibly some warjacks) which was something Retribution had a harder time dealing with previously (particularly beefy Stealth infantry such as Bane Thralls or normal units buffed with Occultation.)

On top of that, the Houseguard Thane brings plenty of other excellent things to the table: CMD 10 on a Commander, solid melee and ranged (relative to his status as a "support" style solo,) Inspiration for Houseguard models (the only thing better than CMD 10 with a re-roll is not rolling in the first place,) and Desperate Pace for Houseguard. Desperate Pace is an awesome buff for both Houseguard units, and it's an enhancement to the speed of the already far-reaching Halberdier unit. In short, the Houseguard Thane brings amazing support for Houseguard units to the table, breathes significant new life into a shelf-warmer unit, and even has a little general army support to offer on top of all that. An absolutely fantastic solo, and in my opinion one of the absolute best releases Retribution has received.

Similar to Khador, the #1 spot for Retribution probably isn't a surprise: Issyria, Sibyl of Dawn. Retribution's warcaster release is absolutely amazing, while also having an interesting internal sense of balance. Issyria is the ultimate enabler; unable to do anything on her own, but she has a lot of tools available to her that allow her to push her army to perform above the curve. What's most interesting about her, having played similarly styled 'caster in other factions, is that she performs this support function in a more nuanced way. The only big math adjustment abilities she has are Inviolable Resolve, Blinding Light, and her feat. Of those three options, only one boosts potential damage output (and it doesn't raise ceilings, just enhance probability,) and Blinding Light is relatively expensive if you end up using it as "just" a DEF debuff (depending on what you're debuffing.) It gives her a very interesting dynamic, and her general kit is also remarkable because it pushes her away from the gunline styles of Retribution armies that have been the stronger army configurations in the past. There's a strong emphasis and need to charge things with her (since you don't have any other way of spiking damage,) and while MHSF are still very strong with her, you probably aren't going to win a game with her by sitting back and shooting (though she's still new; I may be wrong as hell here.)

The other very welcome feature she has from a balance perspective is that she's squishy as all hell. DEF 16 is good, but ARM 13 is downright terrifying in a world where boostable shooting is relatively commonplace (though she can buy herself some outs with Blinding Light.) Retribution has a lot of strong defensive options available and Issyria's Focus stat of 8 lets her play pretty far back, but you definitely need to be careful with her as a few errant hits may be enough to take her off the table. Issyria is also interesting because she has zero ways to damage enemy models on her own; even the weakest of warcasters has a token melee attack and a "shitty nuke" spell or two on their card they can use when the game gets down to the wire. Issyria is all support, all the time, so if something ends up near her (or, god help you, if the game comes down to just her) she's pretty much screwed.

While those will doubtless be frustrating when they cost me games, I like that those limitations are in place. It gives Issyria real weaknesses that your opponent can try to exploit (as opposed to some of the semi-weaknesses that the stronger 'casters get to deal with,) and I think it will help keep her bounded in terms of how you need to build lists for her. As much as anyone may secretly wish for a Haley2/Gaspy2 to be dropped in their lap, Morvhana2 proved to me that it doesn't do the game any good when more super-potent 'casters like that are introduced. Very strong 'casters are fine, and I think so long as PP continues to be able to walk the line like they did with Butcher3 and Issyria, the game can grow with new challenges that aren't flat out frustrating or irritating to have to meta and play against.

All those factors combine to make Issyria an amazing warcaster that is tempered enough to be considered pretty well balanced in the long run. That, along with her more aggressive approach to list building and table tactics, makes her an amazing addition to Retribution's crew of 'casters, and I'm very comfortable in calling her the best/coolest/most remarkable Retribution release this cycle.


This set took me a little longer to write up, partially because my feelings on Retribution are a little more nebulous than Khador. I'm still growing into Retribution, so while I feel like I understand some parts of the army there's a lot that I'm still in "theoryland" on. Still, I feel confident in saying that this release cycle was an absolutely stellar set of models for Retribution that opened up a lot of new, interesting, and frankly fun list options. The Houseguard Thane allows me to un-ironically buy a unit of Houseguard Riflemen (models I really like the look of, but I held off due to their mediocre rules,) Imperatus is going to get me to buy Vyros1 (who was originally so uninteresting I wasn't even going to pick him up,) and Issyria is a generally very solid 'caster that also synergizes with some of my favorite models in the faction (Dawnguard Sentinels and Hyperion.)

It's a great time to be getting into Retribution.

No comments:

Post a Comment