Kaelyssa is the Retribution's toolbox anti-stealth warcaster with a side of denial. She's no front-liner, but if your enemy has tricks, you have a counter for them in her.
Stats, Weapons & Attacks
SPD 6 and Pathfinder are sufficient to keep up with most retribution units. She has a solid DEF 16, but ARM 14 and 16 health boxes do not a durable caster make. Her FOCUS 7 and spell list mean that she's got a solid enough control area, and that she doesn't belong on the front lines from a durability standpoint.
Her melee melee capability is so-so with MAT 6 and POW 12; it's enough to KO enemy troopers but this should be a holdout weapon. She's more at home with the Runebolt cannon, a RNG 12 POW 10 magical weapon with ROF 3 and MAT 7. It's not got a lot of punch, but you can always use it to KO annoying solos. Be ready to boost damage, though, if you want the solo to stay down with one shot.
Overall, she's quick enough to keep up and has a solid focus pool, but she's squishy and only slightly above-average in terms of hitting things with a gun.
Skills & Abilities
In addition to Pathfinder, she's got three neat abilities: True Sight, With Hound and Energy Siphon. Pathfinder at least lets you get Concealment with some ease.
True Sight means you can hit Stealth models. This works even when arcing, so you can snip annoying solos or lay down fire on units with stealth. You can also snipe solos with your rifle, if it comes to that. This is her major anti-stealth ability in person.
Witch Hound is neat, but situational. If someone hits Kaelyssa's battlegroup with a magic attack, someone in the battlegroup gets to make a full advance and an attack after the spell is resolved. It's a bit more fun when the enemy has plenty of magic attacks that they want to use on your jacks, though.
Energy Siphon lets you pull Focus or Fury off any target you hit with one of Kaelyssa's weapons. This lets you de-buff warcaster armor, and deny Warlocks transfers. If you are in melee, you can pull Fury off of models and keep hitting them, and/or boosting damage. Energy Siphon is potentially risky in melee (since you are not, y'know, that durable) but can be a solid source of debuffing.
This is where it gets fun: she's got something for everyone.
POW 12 magical attack with RNG 10. IT's for sniping annoying solos/magical models via arc nodes. If it damages a warjack, then the warjack is rendered stationary. It can make the enemy pay Focus to shake the effect, which is somewhat useful.
More useful is the part where you hit the bloody thing without really trying, so it's a setup for offing a jack. DEF 5 is pretty much an auto-hit, so a boost on K's part can save your jacks focus, especially if you tag a high-DEF target.
If the enemy misses the model/unit holding this buff, then they are in turn hit with the attack. Higher-defense models love this, because the enemy can’t dump a magic AOE on them and game the deviation. It will force boosting, and it’s a deterrent for non-caster magic attacks.
When the warjack suffering this effect takes damage, the caster takes a point of damage each time the jack gets hit. You probably won’t kill the caster with this but you can knock a chunk out of them. The trick to getting the most mileage is to paper-cut the jack to death. Just don’t expect a knockout punch with it at this point, unless the Retribution gets some units with Feedback on their weapons. Combine with Arcantrik Bolt and a Mage Hunter Strike Force to put some damage on the caster and screw up a warjack.
Banishing Ward renders a model/unit immune to being targeted by enemy spells/animi, and knocks off any enemy upkeeps on them. Bottom line, it can keep a unit from getting a nasty upkeep on it, or remove it after the fact. If you didn’t put it on something preemptively, then they get one turn to enjoy the debuff.
Someone in the battlegroup ignores LOS when making attacks, and laughs at concealment and cover when shooting.. This can let Kaelyssa hit anything she can range. It also lets most of the jacks be a little more accurate; RAT 5 becomes a little more effective at hitting stuff but probably still wants boosts. It’s a neat upkeep for 2 focus, but somewhat situational.
This is her most expensive spell at 4 focus, but it’s a 4” AOE with POW 13. That’s not bad for thinning out troops with lower armor (and/or stealth), but the real bonus is that the AOE is difficult terrain for a round. IF you can make it hit, and the enemy doesn’t have pathfinder (or reach, dependong in speed/distance), then it’s wonderful denial.
Feat: The Vanishing
Friendly faction models in her control zone gain Stealth and cannot be charged for a round. This is purely a setup feat, and can potentially deny both ranged and shooting. Just make sure the enemy isn’t so close that they’ll simply walk up and smack you, and keep a look out for any ranged attacks that ignore stealth. Also, be ready for the feat's utility to vary based on matchups.
What to bring with her?
Kaelyssa wants heavy hitters. The Phoenix gets a mention because it’s an arc node and has a pretty reasonable damage output. You can get around MAT 6 by smacking the target with an Arcantrik bolt if it’s a jack.
The Manticore goes nicely with Rift, since Covering Fire + Rift = unhappy infantry plus slow jacks. It is also, of course, a great heavy hitter and you need that as well.
The Hydra can bank its focus and use Phantom Hunter to great effect with its Force Cannon; unless you’re stealth you can’t hide from a POW 15, RNG 15 gun with RAT 5 (potentially 7 with the aim) and a boost. It’s not really for hunting casters, but solos and UAs probably won’t do well with a boostable POW 15 hit.
Typically, you’re bringing Kaelyssa because she doesn’t have as many problems with Stealth as other casters. Retribution has two ways around stealth: melee and AoEs. To this end, I suggest starting with Dawnguard Sentinels, and look elsewhere once you’ve filled them out and added the UA. This also means you don’t absolutely, positively HAVE to use your jacks for all the big game hunting.
The only unit-borne AoEs come from Stormfall Archers, and Kaelyssa doesn’t really buff those. However, an Arcantrik Bolt makes the Brutal Shot more likely to hit, which can help set up Jacks for explosive deconstruction.
MHSF don’t really have a way around stealth, but a minimal unit + UA are excellent support hunters, and can combo well with Arcantrik Bolt and Backlash against casters.
Eiryss is excellent support against Warmachine opponents. pEiryss is more of a caster-kill setup or sniper, as eEiryss + multiple arcantrik bolts = 2-3 stationary jacks a turn if they’re close by.
I suggest an arcanist per heavy jack, or the max of two. Early on, they let you run myrmidons into position without taxing her, and once she starts running them they buff the damage output or fix busted systems.
Beyond that, current solos tend to be support-hunters of one stripe or another, so flavor as needed.
The word I use most in this writeup is ‘situational.’ Kaelyssa has something for most every situation, which is what makes her versatile. Her edge lies in denying the enemy neat tricks. She can deny movement, charges, shooting, stealth, and warjack usage, which is a pretty solid list.