Continuing the train of faction reviews, today I'll be going over the relative greatness (or lack thereof) of each of the releases for the Legion of Everblight models. The reviewing process (in all of it's statistical validity and nuance) has been outlined previously, so lets just get right into it!
Absylonia, Daughter of Everblight:
Abby's epic form has kind of a weird spell list, and her game plan is sort of super straightforward (screaming death punch,) but Conferred Rage and her feat should make for some amazing games. I think she'll be a lot of fun to play, and when she works I think she'll work like gangbusters, but I feel she's too dependent on things like Conferred Rage and having a good feat turn for me to rank her higher (not that she's ranked particularly low.)
Meta Bending: 2/5
Abby2 isn't really bringing anything particularly new to Legion. Its still going to be an aggressive, battlegroup heavy list, though at least with her you're more likely to be leaning towards melee than ranged. I don't doubt it will be effective, but I also don't foresee her approach forcing players to re-evaluate their Legion match up.
There is a possibility that Abby2 will have an interesting meta effect as more of an "answer" than a "question," since she's can run such an offensively potent list. If folks start to make headway with her in that regard should could bend the meta a bit, at least in that you'll have another 'caster to expect when facing Legion.
Cool model, great feat, awesome previously under-used special ability (many players probably don't even know what 'caster/'lock had Conferred Rage prior to her) and a hyper aggressive playstyle combine to make what looks to be a fun warlock. If I still played Legion, I'd definitely be looking to play Abby2.
He loses some points for a lack of Reach and semi-mediocre hitting power, but overall Zuriel is an excellent second wave warbeast. He'll tear up infantry with his sprays and he can still do well in melee if you bring a buff or two along to help him out. Zuriel also boasts probably the best defensive statline in all of Legion - DEF 12, ARM 19 - and it gets a point better on both stats with Tenacity. Zuriel also has excellent Affinity's with Rhyas and Saeryn that fit well with his probable early-to-mid game position.
Meta Bending: 2.5/5
I'm not sure that Zuriel is going to due much to bend the meta himself, but I do think he'll see play, and when he shows up he'll have a decent effect on the game. What you effectively get with him is a model that compares very favorably to Typhon - more mobile, more durable (2 fewer health but 2 higher ARM,) self-boosting sprays - for 2 points cheaper. Having access to a similar spray-bot heavy warbeast in two different lists may make Legion even more anti-infantry capable (not that they were particularly hurting at it before.)
I really like the fact that Zuriel is a character Nephalim, and having two Affinity's is neat. I also appreciate how PP finally managed to make a "two swords" heavy that isn't just another a Side Step melee monster. However, points deducted for the bizarre take off/landing pose.
The Neraph isn't anything fancy, but it does bring a set of nice things for it's cost. It's a cheap, flying, Serpentine heavy warbeast with decent hitting power, an interesting animus, and the possibility of giving itself auto-hitting melee attacks. The Neraph is a great example of an effective "bargain" priced heavy, which also makes it a nice addition to Legion as it's now the cheapest combat heavy option available.
It's also probably worth noting that the Neraph feels like it has plenty of synergy with Abby2. It's cheap enough to bring a few of, and with her feat bonuses along with Conferred Rage those Neraphs will get some serious work done.
Meta Bending: 2/5
It's a cheap, flying melee heavy which is nice, but the Neraph doesn't really do anything special. It may allow some lists to throw in another combat heavy that normally wouldn't be able to afford it, and the synergy with Abby2 is fairly significant, but I don't expect the Neraph to be much of a game changer for the faction.
I'm cheating a bit here; I actually don't think the Neraph is all that cool. It's alright, but not amazing. What I do think is awesome though is how it's creation allowed PP to revisit the way in which Legion flying heavies are realized on the tabletop. The Neraph is a pretty slick looking model, and the reimagined Seraph is a thousand times better than it's original, absolutely horrid model. Granted, this new style of flying model probably makes them even harder to safely store and transport, but that's Legion for ya.
As dubious as the title may be, Strider Blightblades are, for my money, the best Ambush unit in the game. They're fast Pathfinder models with great DEF and Stealth which will allow them to either Ambush and charge into combat, or Ambush and run a long ways to engage. They have two attacks each with CMA (as well as Critical Grevious Wounds for lulz) which allows them to either swing a bunch of times (good against mediocre DEF infantry) or combine up for increased accuracy/damage. Their two biggest weaknesses - pathetic ARM and low CMD - will be a problem, but even then I still feel like they're the best example of what you actually want from an Ambush unit.
Meta Bending: 4/5
I may be going out on a limb here, but I think that Blightblades could really change how players have to deal with Legion. Imagine your typical Legion battlegroup setup, but with fast, competent, dodgy Ambushers ready to either run in and gum you up on the turn you want to commit, or they get into your backfield/flanks at the worst time. Hell, if nothing else they'll probably funnel your opponent towards the center of the table, which is exactly where you want them for all those Ravagore shots.
I don't necessarily think that most Legion players will adopt this approach - Blightblades are proportionately expensive and many players minimize non-battlegroup, non-support choices - but I think it has merit. The other issue is that the strong current Legion lists work very, very well, so there isn't much incentive to change things up other than novelty. But I'd wager they'll find their time in the future.
For as much as I like the unit in terms of application, I don't find them particularly exciting. The models are nice but not amazing, and their rules are practical and effective instead of being surprising or unexpected. Much like the Eliminators though a unit does not have to be exciting in order to be effective, and if I still played Legion you better believe I'd be buying a unit (or two) of Blightblades.
If you've been waiting for me to slag something, your patience is about to be rewarded: the Blight Wasps are awful. I'm on record as being willing to give anything its fair shake and then some (see: all those Harkevich games) but the Blight Wasps are extremely gimped. The only good thing they have going for them is SPD, and the remote possibility that they may be able to do some decent damage if you pile all of them onto a single target and ladle on enough buffs.
However, their defensive stats are absolutely horrid and they only have 5 damage boxes apiece, so I'm having a hard time seeing how they're not just going to get popped. Due to the way their unit works (in-unit quasi-Gang, Fury stat based on models in the unit,) all it takes is around two POW 10 attacks to effectively neuter the unit.
I am legitimately shocked by how ultra-conservative their rules are. Legion is already crowded with excellent options, so the Blight Wasps needed to be much, much more effective than they currently are in order to enter the realm of consideration (let alone consistently see play.) I sincerely hope I'm wrong and someone comes up with a sick application for them, but right now I'm struggling to come up with what that might be.
Meta Bending: 1/5
The Blight Wasps represent a perfect, terrible cross-section of a model that isn't likely to even register in the meta. Their offensive output is unremarkable - you can probably spin them up to have decent output, but that same effort expended on just about anything would probably get you similar or better results - and their defensive capabilities are so laughably bad that your opponent can almost certainly deal with them very easily with anything they already have in their list.
The absolute best thing I've heard right now (admittedly I haven't been following the discussion of Blight Wasps tech super closely) is taking a few units with Thagrosh2 and letting Manifest Destiny spin them up. That's probably the best scenario I've heard for the Blight Wasps offensively, but I still feel like their low durability will result in most or all of them dying before you can do much with that plan. And it's fundamentally the same as Shredder spam, which I feel is a tactic that died around the time the Colossals/Gargantuans books were released.
Yes, their rules are terrible. The Blight Wasps are, at best, a unit you need to jump through lots of hoops to get to work well; at worst, they're beyond salvation.
But just look at that studio picture. Aren't those just the cutest goddamn things you've ever seen? Whomever painted their wings that adorable cotton candy pink was either brilliant or responsible for the best accident ever. I probably couldn't resist buying a unit just to paint up like that and troll people with.
Fyanna the Lash:
Fyanna is a bizarre combat solo. Unlike most of her cohorts, she's much more based on shenanigans, what with her ability to throw (small based) models, attack twice, and get at models from a long ways out (she has a helluva threat range with SPD 7 and 4" melee range during her activation.)
The issue I have with Fyanna is that she's relatively low impact for a combat solo. Dismember is effectively conditional Weaponmaster and is nice against Hordes, but it also means against Warmachine she's not much more than a throwbot. Admittedly, you can probably do some cool stuff with that, but I don't know how worth her 3 point cost she is. And her ARM 12 and lack of Stealth (Prowl is nice, but conditional) makes me a little nervous about her just getting picked.
My gut says that she's fine, and probably fun, just not super impressive in terms of game output. Which is probably the better way to balance a combat solo in the grand scheme of things. The game does not need another Mk. 1 Vilmon.
Meta Bending: 2/5
Fyanna is a decent combat solo, but I can't imagine anyone tailoring their lists for either, either to use her or fight against her. She's also hurt a bit by the fact that she's a solo: Legion doesn't have many Control Area buffs that work on warrior models, and its very hard to justify putting most single target buffs on just her.
It'd be better if Legion had more buffing animus that they could toss around, but the lack of general buffing animi sucks a bit here as well. Tenacity could be fun though, particularly with Evasive. Legion already runs a tight point margin, so I'm not sure how often she'll make the cut.
As much as I may not be wowed by her rules I do appreciate how different Fyanna is. She's not your typical character combat solo, and while that does count against her in terms of expectations, I always appreciate it when the designers try to come up with something new. It's also probably fun to have her toss infantry around into one another, so there's that.
Legion of Everblight Overall Release Rating: 2.5/5
Legion's releases are kind of all over the map. For every solid or interesting release, there's a lame or boring one, with the result being that this set of Legion models feels overall average. That isn't helped much by the feeling that none of the models really shake up Legion's game, which has stagnated in the past couple of years (though that's mostly been stagnation due to efficacy of existing options.)
I do think there are some really good models in this release that will see play and will be effective. It's just a shame there isn't more to actually be excited about.
It is worth noting though that Legion is the only faction that currently has studio images for all of it's models this release cycle. So hey, there's that.
Three of five, done! Next time, we'll be tackling the Skorne releases. Expect many flails.