A few months ago I noticed something that had begun to bother me about my list building. Most of my lists started with Beast Handlers, a Gladiator, Swordsmen with UA, and either Acuarii or Gatormen with a Taskmaster depending on the warlock. The BB and Brute were almost as common. Worse, I was fielding Hexeris almost half the time, and splitting most of the rest of my games between Morghoul1 and Rasheth.
Being the contrary aesthetic that I am I decided to bench it all. (Except the Beast Handlers. I’m not that masochistic.)
Here’s what I’ve noticed so far.
I don’t actually miss Rush outside of Pathfinder. It took the thread on the Sentry before the why came into focus; the Gladiator and BB are the slowest beasts in our stable. The rest of our heavies can match their Rushed threat range without the boost. I also had a tendency to send the BB in by itself: my warlock frequently didn’t have the resources to throw Rush around (and I wasn’t taking the Shaman much) so the Gladiator was often stuck Rushing the BB and hanging back for the next turn. The BB will wreck a lot of face, but it can only accomplish so much by itself. A pair of heavies that can both commit at the same time can match or beat its damage output.
Without the Brute I tend to fall back on the Krea for its defensive animus, but the other lights have served me well when they’ve made the table. The Savage in particular has taken on things that should have been well out of its weight class, and even come out on top a few times when I had the right buffs. I’m beginning to think that the extra offensive capacities of a combat oriented light are worth more than the abilities of the defensive or utility beasts.
Cetrati are darn solid. I like the mobility of the Acuarii and the extra attack output of the Gators, but there’s something to be said for a unit that can take that kind of abuse. Even without Defender’s Ward on the table they do good work.
On the other end of the scale, the Ferox are so mobile it’s not funny. I think their MAT 6 gets a bad rap, with two attacks they generally hit what I aim them at. They’re not that hard to get charges off with either, and MAT 8 P+S 14 is pretty darn good. They’re flimsy by Skorne standards, but with Defender’s Ward I’ve seen them soak up half a Cygnar army’s shooting and still have men on the table, if that doesn’t qualify them as Heavy Infantry I don’t know what would. They’ve even managed a caster-kill for me with Fury and a couple of lucky to-hit rolls after Leaping over the opposing line.
I know, Nihilators FTW! Thing is; I’ve only had them painted for a month, so they’ve only seen the table on a couple of game nights. This is a place where I really think we have tunnel vision. The Karax and the Immortals both have their issues, I can’t deny that, but neither has lost me a game just by being on the table.
All I really expect the Karax to do is act as a speed bump; with reach they can cover a larger area or offer more potential free-strikes than Swordsmen in that capacity. We have a goodly number of buffs to offer them, and a unit with Reach and CMA is never to be entirely discounted. I do think they pay the “TyCom Tax” however (along with the Cetrati and Ferox).
The forum thinks what it thinks of the AG, but I’ve found that Resonance just isn’t that hard to manage for the Immortals and with Hakaar out “I need the useless AG for them” doesn’t hold water. Quite frankly my AGs and Immortals have quite a few caster kills to their names, and not just under Zaal.
(I’ll admit didn’t like the Nihilators from a conceptual standpoint; I don’t particularly like Berserk. They’ve exceeded my expectations, but not by so much that they’ll replace my Swordsmen as my standard unit.)
I’ve never been one to discount some ranged firepower, benching my Usual Suspects has left me free to shake things up taking more combined-arms type lists.
I’ve never really understood the complaints about the Catapult, my games lately have done nothing to change my opinion. They’ve inflicted a fair amount of damage, kept high-def units from positioning too aggressively, interfered with opposing artillery (and frequently out-ranged it), and missed killing Eyiriss only because my dice don’t like me.
My Cannoneer has performed almost as well at range, and proven both more resilient and more competent in melee than faction wisdom would suggest. It’s quickly becoming my go-to heavy again. I’ve not fielded it in pairs or alongside a Rhinodon yet, but I probably will before too long.
So far I’ve enjoyed every warlock except Morghoul2. I get why I don’t reach for the Makedas or Xerxis on a regular basis, none of them really has the flexibility that I like so much with Hexeris, but they’ve been a fun change of pace. Xerxis has more depth than I remember, and Makeda1 does what she does so well that her lack of depth doesn’t matter very much. Makeda2 is … lets just say that timing her feat is not as intuitive as you might think if you haven’t played her very much.
I can say with great certainty that we can play without the Gladiator. I know I’m not going to win a major ‘con anytime soon, but I win about as often as I lose. I didn’t see any change at all in my win ratio after dropping most of the things I considered key pieces in my arsenal, and I think that says something about our internal balance.