So, I made a post over at the muse on minis forum about Khador casters to help me kind of quantify what their win conditions are and how they play and OrsusSmash had a FANTASTIC write up. It pretty much killed the thread by winning it so decisively that it reminded me of that scene in Old School where they are doing the debate. Anyway, I asked him for permission to reprint his post here in its entirety and he agreed so, enjoy, and feel free to comment. In honor of his namesake, here’s a sweet pic of the Butcher of Khardov, Orsus Zoktavir and the article begins in earnest right below it.
Thanks again to OrsusSmash for this write up -
Khador as a faction is slanted towards attrition, typically via inequitable trades. Example: a handful of Battle Lusted Iron Fang Pikemen can kill just about any heavy in the game, and if you can leverage the whole unit they’ll do a number on a colossal. That’s a comparatively small investment, for a large gain on your part. “Trading up” is usually something Khador does well.
The flip side of the coin is demanding your opponent spend resources well above and beyond what they “should” need to in order to remove some of your models. One of the neo-classic examples is Kayazy Assassins: even without Iron Flesh, your opponent is probably going to have to throw more attacks at the unit to kill it than they’d like (with Iron Flesh it skews even harder.) That allows your unit to trade at a rate that other units normally wouldn’t be capable of, or deal with things way outside of their weight class (even buffed infantry typically need 7-8′s to hit, and again it gets much worse with Iron Flesh.)
Typically, “attrition” based Khador warcasters aren’t “tanks” like some of the Trollblood ‘locks are. They achieve attrition through tilting their infantry one way or the other (ultra killy or ultra hard to remove) or sometimes both at the same time (hello Irusk1!) and letting those parts of the army grind your opponent down to a position they can’t maintain.
Enough preamble, lets talk ‘casters!
Sorscha1: Attrition/Assassination. Renaissance girl right now. She herself is relatively easy to kill (usually DEF 18+, but usually zero focus camping,) but she enables her army to either tilt the numbers in your favor via mass Stationary/KD (through her spells and her feat) or sneak an assassination (via her feat and typically long ranged shooting that doesn’t care about DEF 5.)
Vlad1: Aggression/Attrition. Vlad1 is one of the few ‘casters that can run a decent size battlegroup in Khador, thanks to his feat giving you an alpha strike or at least matched threat with most enemy heavies. This allows him to play much more aggressively with the warjacks he brings, which is something most people don’t see in Khador. The shining stars for him are his two big spells: Signs & Portents, and Blood of Kings. The former tilts the math of your entire army, putting you into a really good position offensively, and Blood of Kings gives him an endgame/survival tool that can be hard to deal with after attrition has taken it’s toll. Vlad1 is one of our ‘casters that is more likely to end games himself, but he’s not really assassination; it’s usually a situation where your opponent has to try to Hail Mary you off the table and fails, or it’s a ‘caster duel and Blood of Kings Vlad1 wins.
Butcher1: Attrition. Iron Flesh to tilt your army defensively, Fury and his feat to tilt your army hard offensively. Butcher1 makes a promise: I will kill anything you put in front of me. If your opponent can’t deal with that (either via out threating you, or surviving your offense,) they’re gonna have a bad time. Butcher1 is probably our best “tank” ‘caster, because he hits like a ton of bricks, and can camp/buff himself up to very hard to kill levels. His threat range is really easy to understand and mitigate, but he still needs to be respected.
Irusk1: Attrition. Vying for our “best ‘caster” spot, because he does his job extremely well. Every aspect of Irusk1′s kit is tuned to give you the tools you need to grind your opponent’s army into dust. He makes his infantry into unholy killing machines, turns their survivability on high with his feat and Iron Flesh (though there are counters to both, so don’t get cocky!) and even has our best warjack support spell to slap on a Conquest backing all that up.
Sorscha2: Attrition. Also vying for “best ‘caster,” she does a lot of what Irusk1 does, but does it differently. She doesn’t hit the peaks of damage that Irusk1 does, but her feat is still a huge damage multiplier (especially considering how hard Khador can hit at base.) She also supports our best infantry unit….the best (Winter Guard Infantry) which allows you to establish infantry dominance in a lot of matches very quickly. Sorscha2 also supports a Conquest well, between her bond’s freezing effect, the extra focus, and Boundless Charge for threat. Also worth noting that Shatterstorm gives her RFP that she can dole out as necessary, which can be very valuable in some match ups.
Vlad2: Assassination/Attrition. One of my favorite ‘casters. Vlad2 is still all about supporting his army, but in this form it’s much more about turning a handful of models into relative stat gods and having them either cripple your opponent’s army, or pick the enemy ‘caster off. High risk, high reward, because his feat is random and sometimes you’ll come up short on a big play, but a lot of fun because you can build your army for both possibilities at 50 points, and have flexibility for when you pop your feat. Doom Reavers are way too much fun with +3 to all stats.
Karchev: Attrition/Assassination. Karchev is all about making his battlegroup extremely mobile. I played him a lot in Mk. 1 with Iron Curtain abuse, but he’s been harder to use in Mk. 2 so far. He has a strong assassination/attrition play that works precisely once on everyone (Karchev Tows warjacks up 10″, drops them off, they kill your ‘caster or your heavies.) Once your opponents become more familiar with him, you need to be a lot more cagey. Difficult ‘caster to use, since everyone is gunning to take down exactly what he is (low DEF, high ARM heavy) but fun when you get his game to “click.” Don’t use him against Cryx.
Old Witch: Attrition/Control. One of our precious few “control” ‘casters. Old Witch is looking to control the board using her feat (one of the stronger control feats out there,) Murder of Crows (to block LoS/movement,) and existing terrain (Augury shenanigans or Weald Secret’ing our infantry.) She can tilt defense using the always popular Iron Flesh, and she can be pretty hard to pick off thanks to distance and Prowl (watch out for things that ignore Stealth!) Also threatens infantry with Scrapjack-Avatar of Slaugher sprees, though like Karchev’s Tow move that’s something that most people will walk into once. One thing to note about Old Witch: she’s one of our ‘casters that does zero to the army’s damage output, so you need to build for enemy ARM in mind.
Butcher2: Attrition. Butcher2′s theme list is what he’s best known for. Can you kill all these Doom Reavers before I erase you? If not, I win. If so, I may still win because there’s Conquest and Butcher2 behind all of them. That aside, Butcher2 is a very interesting ‘caster. He still has the stats for a decent endgame run, but it’s not as reliable because he doesn’t have Iron Flesh or steady focus. He does have some very good offensive spells (i.e. he still has Fury, and he picked up Boundless Charge,) he supports a few warjacks well with his Conferred Rage, and his feat can be a huge attrition tool (allows you basically a second turn immediately after the first) or a sneaky assassination tool (cavalry solos have a 26″ non-linear threat under his feat, warjacks have 18″ if you can get Butcher2 to kill something.)
Zerkova: Attrition/Control/Pity. Zerkova is an oddball. Her feat is actually a strong control feat, and she has a few good spells on her card – Icy Grip is an okay debuff, Banishing Ward is situationally nice, Watcher is actually a pretty fun spell (though something your opponent can mitigate,) and she can snipe solos/UA leaders pretty well using Razor Wind – but her overall kit doesn’t come together into anything particularly great. In theory, she’s another “control” ‘caster for Khador, but I’ve never felt particularly in control when using her. Winning with her does help your nerd peen though.
Epic Irusk: Attrition. Like most epics, he’s a revision of his old style, with a new approach. Irusk2 retains the glory that is Battle Lust, picks up a good shooting buff in Fire For Effect, grabs two movement spells (Energizer and Tactical Supremacy,) and picks up an odd control-ish spell with Artifice of Deviation. His feat is also a huge “tempo” feat, as it hobbles most of your opponent’s chances at offense, while allowing your army to recover and press the attack. Irusk1 tends to be safer and more consistent, but I find Irusk2′s “lead from the front” style more fun to play.
Strakov: Attrition/Assassination. Strakov is another odd duck, but thankfully he turned out better than Zerkova. I’ve played a good bit of Strakov, and he’s at least more active and effective than her. Strakov has “one good trick” similar to Karchev, in that you can catch a lot of people with Feat + Overrun + warjack to the face if they aren’t ready for it. Once they’ve seen it, they’ll take the necessary precautions. Unlike Karchev though, I think Strakov has more depth to fall back on. He has a very interesting spell in Sentry, Occultation to help with shooting match ups (not all of them, but better than nothing,) and Overrun can be used to give warjacks a turn-by-turn effective double speed bonus or movement shenanigans. Strakov’s feat feels more designed for the mid-game, when the first lines have murdered each other and you’re both struggling to get as much of your second line into action as possible, and when I’ve played the army with an eye on crushing on turn 3-4 (instead of fishing for a hard alpha) he’s worked pretty well.
Harkevich: Attrition. Harkevich is a battlegroup support warcaster, and boasts (currently) the only ARM buff we can put on our warjacks. His feat plus Escort plus Field Marshal allows him to run his battlegroup very aggressively, and use it to get stuck in and start a scenario grind. Under no circumstances should you build for Broadsides, but it also isn’t too hard to build an effective battlegroup that can happen to make use of that spell if you end up in a good situation for it. With Harkevich, start with a battlegroup that’s going to push for melee, and build your army to support it (screening/anti-infantry infantry, some support solos, Mechaniks, etc.) He ends up having a very unique playstyle in Khador, and he’s been very fun to use.
Vlad3: Aggression/Attrition?/Assassination. The NKoTB. Vlad3′s deal is speed, and a different style of infantry buffing than previous versions. Dash is a huge enabler for your army, and it allows you to get to scenario zones/objectives very quickly. From there…I’m still figuring that out. Right now I’ve got a build that is more cavalry heavy, and it actually works decently well: you can use his feat to hit-and-fade, or hit and dig deeper into enemy lines. You also have the ever present threat of Vlad3 lawnmowering down enemy infantry (bonus if they’re living so he can beast out on blood) and/or Side Stepping his way around/through their army to get the ‘caster kill. Very fun, but also high risk/high reward.