Friday, November 18, 2011


I have always loved the idea of tier lists.  In fact, they were the reason why I stared playing Mk II in the first place!  I was bitter about Mk I and how some lists were so incredibly broken and I was "just a casual gamer."  The idea of playing a theme list for benefits really appealed to me!  I later discovered that I can still have fun in a casual setting trying to be competitive, but I digress.  Today I will be looking at what I believe to be the top 3 tiers.  Your meta will vary so take my rankings with a grain of salt, but I will be listing my top 3 (unfortunately, a little one-sided) rated based on achieving Tier 4.  Let's do this!

The first thing I noted with the tiers is that they are starting to look more refined and interesting from some of the ones in the other books.  Since Warmachine was released first for Mk II, some of the Warmachine tier lists are sub-par, especially in Retribution of Scyrah and Cygnar - the first books released after the playtest was over.  Not only do I think that they are all competitive, but I think that they are starting to show some unique and fun benefits.  Unfortunately, I think that one faction made out better than all of the others with their tier lists, but your meta will vary.

Honorable Metion - Jarl Skuld
It was really difficult for me to decide between this guy and #3 so I had to put in an honorable mention for this guy.  Even his Tier 1 benefit alone is great, giving a +1 to the starting roll and Advance Move to your favorite Trolls with shields.  His tier is all about movement, movement, movement, and getting everything you need up the board quickly - a bit strange for Trolls.  Tier 2 is the standard "take two, get UA free" and the fact that its the new UA is a little sweeter.  At the New England Team Tournament the Troll player on the 1st place team was quoted saying these guys with Grim are disgusting, but I think they will be great with Jarl since he can get them into optimal positions.  Tier 3 happens automatically if you want to take advantage of your Tier 1 benefit and being able to move through rough terrain unhindered with these units will be nice even if its only on the first turn.  Finally, Tier 4 will get your light warbeasts starting further up the field, which is great because he'll want to take lights anyway, if for no other reason than to have Far Strike and Rush as animi.  His tier is pretty solid, in my opinion!

#3 - Maelok
I really like Maelok's tier.  Although the Minion subfactions are limited by their options for models, this guy's tier fully takes advantage of the dark voodoo theme that the Gators are starting to adopt.  Maelok's tier reflects all of the models that you'd want to take with him anyway, so it's absolutely worth it in my mind to just take his tier list anyway, since it's not much more limiting than playing Blindwater Congregation already.  So what does he get?

Well Tier 1 makes the new Witch Doctors cheaper and increases their FA depending on what else is in the army.  Witch Doctors are asbolutely necessary for Maelok if you want to make the most of his feat, and they can theoretically run on the flanks to keep a longer leash on some of your beasts (like Boneswarms).

Tier 2 is taking two of everyone's favorite Blindwater Congregation unit, and in exchange everyone gains Incorporeal first turn.  That means moving through things, but your opponent will be able to hit you with non-magical items.  Situationally useful, though, so that you can reposition if you need to on your first turn.

These will be fun!
Next, if we take multiple Witch Doctors, you get to hand out Advance Move an undead model for each.  Remember that Maelok is undead!  This one of the few tiers that lets your warlock start further up the board, and this is huge for making sure that you don't overextend yourself - key in scenario play.

Lastly, taking more than 2 Boneswarms will have them gaining a corpse token, meaning that they will start at POW 13 and ARM 16.  Not too shabby!  I see this list running lots of Witch Doctors to make sure that your units are able to benefit from Maelok's feat and so that you can throw Death Pact onto a warbeast to improve its survivability.  I see the Swamp Horror being especially helpful for Maelok for all kinds of pulling shenanigans, and his animus will allow an increased threat range for all of his warbeasts - especially Boneswarms (get more corpses!) and Wrastlers (only hard-hitting heavy).

#2 - Kallus
I think that Kallus offers a unique playstyle to Legion.  Sure, Rhyas works well with an infantry-heavy list, but she's often overlooked and hard to play.  Kallus, however, played an attrition game until he rolls in and wrecks face.  With him, you're not delivering the alpha strike, your taking it on the chin and punching back harder.  So what are his benefits?

Tier 1 sees him already seeing a discount on the harder-hitting infantry units that Legion has.  An obvious choice for him to maximize units to benefit from his Unconquerable rule and Dark Guidance.

Tier 2 is interesting.  It requires a unit attachment - something we haven't seen before - but those units get to move before everyone else.  This is interesting because Legion I think has the most expensive unit attachments, but there's one in particular that will be perfect for Kallus: Captain Farilor (Legionnaires).  While Farilor might seem unimpressive at first (Vengeance is nice but they don't hit hard), consider the fact that he offers two defensive benefits to his unit: Set Defense and the mini-feat Iron Zeal.  Combine these with the statlines of Legionnaires in Defensive Line and the mini-feat and these guys are now ARM 20!  Sure, they're still 1 wound, but combined with Kallus' Unconquerable, these guys are perfect front-line troops at DEF 14 against charge attacks and ARM 22 in melee... gross.  Oh and the standard bearer has Mage Static so it's less likely enemy spells will be in range to tag them with a debuff.  Tier 2 gets these guys up in front of your lines quickly, and will make a great front-line the turn before you pop your feat.
Oh internet, why you hate?

Tier 3 gives something interesting: 3" AOE clouds within 20" of the board edge that deals a POW 14 if models enter or end their activation.  If you take a Carnivean and a Scythean (which you should with Kallus for their animi), you'll get two of these AOEs, but beyond that I'm not sure it's worth it since you want lots of infantry with him.  These AOE's might not seem all that great, but they will be huge for scenario play - especially radial scenarios.  This means that you can go second and not stress about getting to the objective first.  Very neat!

Finally, Tier 4 has a high requirement of units to get, but you'll likely be taking lots of units anyway, and the benefit is that no one is slowed by rough terrain during your first turn.  That's great if you're playing on a board with some terrain, and considering the sheer number of models you'll likely be taking with Kallus, this benefit is pretty ace.

#1 - eVayl
That's right.  I think that Legion got both of the top 2 spots for their tier lists.  The first thing that I want to note about eVayl is that she's the first real spell-slinger we have in the game.  For some reason, casting offensive spells is an expensive ordeal for warcasters/warlocks, and we more often see buff spells used than we do offensive ones.  With eVayl's stellar spell list and matching feat, we see a warlock who can throw out up to 3 Oblierations that she can arc through targets she tags with her 3 (!) oraculi.  She will have to stay further back than her primal version, but that's no matter to her.  So what does her tier look like?

First Tier always looks at what you can take.  What I was surprised to discover is that she has two character warbeasts available to her: Typhon and Proteus.  While I doubt she will take both, the option is there and it allows you to be quite flexible with her tier list, moreso than many of the other warlocks in the book.  Her first tier benefit gives the generic, spammable solos advance deploy, to help them start a little closer to the action.  There's a particular flying solo that will make great benefit of this, but this also applies to the new Succubus attachment and - most importantly - SPELL MARTYRS.  That's right, the disposable arc nodes for the best spell slinger in the game will be advance deploying.  Enjoy that thought.

This chick will be very helpful
Tier 2 is pretty straight forward - more likely to choose to go first for Vayl's favorite battlefield tool.  Interestingly, I don't see it collecting many corpses, as Vayl won't be taking lots of infantry, but it will be handy to keep behind a unit of Legionnaires with their new UA (although, not if you're also playing a Kallus list in SR 2012).  They will provide a solid front-line - even for Vayl - and if they die then they'll just feed the pot anyway.  Straight-forward and pretty solid.

Tier 3 is where it gets interesting.  Since most of your solos will be advance-deploying due to Tier 1, we might as well speed up the beasts a bit too, right?  eVayl has a large control area so she can afford to run them a little further away from herself, and with disposable arc nodes, who needs to be close to the fight?  What's interesting is that she gets this decent bonus to SPD only if she takes more than 2 of the following: Harrier, Nephilim Soldier, Angelius, or Seraph.  The Angels will be pretty great with her.  They have a great threat range, can punk heavies, and with Vayl's spells Admonition and Refuge, they will be obnoxious to remove from the table and able to hit-and-run multiple times in a game.  She'll also want to take a Seraph for Slipstream to drive her movement shenanigans home when combined with Refuge and he also bring some mild anti-light and anti-infantry shooting.  Remember our favorite flying solo?  Now having her with AD makes much more sense, as she'll easily be able to keep up and cast some spells first turn.  The most awesome part of her tier though is...

eVayl's new best friend
Tier 4.  Let's say we take 2 Angels and 1 Seraph, like above.  Guess what?  They're cheaper in Tier 4.  Gross.  Now you don't feel so bad about taking that Seraph, do you?  Sure, you might not save tons of points, but right there we saved enough to give us a free Legionnaire UA - totally necessary for keeping them alive.  In 50 points, this Tier benefit will be much more noticeable considering up until this point, there has been a pretty low investment to get here.  You can quite easily fulfill Tier 3 and 4 simultaneously, because I think that the light and lesser warbeasts don't bring anything all that great to the table for her.  That said, this tier can easily see 3 or 4 Angels on the field, and anyone who knows what my Legion collection looks like will have a laugh at that thought.

As much as we've seen Saeryn running the Legion airforce, I think we'll see it even more with eVayl.  She might not offer much direct support, but she allows them to hit-and-run effectively until she's able to unleash all hell onto her opponents.  You should consider taking a heavy like a Carnivean (for his animus) because he'll still be cheaper anyway, but you'll need an easier target to tag with an oraculus since they no longer automatically hit.  eVayl lost a lot of the survivability of her primal version and she doesn't support her beasts offensively anymore, but in this author's opinion, Legion beasts really don't need that much support, and the Sorceress on the Helion will help make those flying beasts more fury-efficient.

Like I said at the beginning, your mileage will vary, and your meta might not agree with my analysis, and that's totally cool!  I think this game depends on your meta probably more than most, since there are over 120 warcasters/warlocks, and so it's nearly impossible to see an equal distribution of the possibilities you'll be seeing across the table.  It's one of the great strengths of the game!

In case you did not catch my edit to Part 1, here's what you can expect for the rest of the week from the DOMINATION! READ! NOW! series:
Part 3: My 3 favorite warlocks 
Part 4: My 3 favorite new warbeasts in the book
Part 5: My 5 favorite units/UAs/solos
Part 6: The new character warbeasts
Part 7: Battle report with one of the new warlocks!
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