Monday, August 13, 2012

pStryker and the Stormwall

I've been playing around with the Stormwall for some time now.  While the model is hardly rare on the tabletop anymore, it's most often seen with either of the Haleys, despite having some solid synergies elsewhere.  Frequenters of my blog know that I've had great success with the Stormwall under Sloan and I think I've finally found a comfortable list with her, but I've been searching for a 2nd list to run next to her, and I think I've come back to Commander Stryker, with whom I've had some great success at tournaments so far.  One of the features of the list, of course, is the Stormwall and pStryker has some solid synergy with the Colossal that many will often overlook.  Today I will breakdown why I love the Stormwall so much with the often underrated pStryker.

Whenever people hear that Stryker is coming onto the table, they often assume it's his epic incarnation.  While his epic form is really great, I have recently discovered how awesome his prime form actually is.  His spell list is quite extensive for only a 6 focus warcaster and he actually is sporting some awesome spells, including some of the more iconic spells Cygnar has to offer.  He sports both Arcane Bolt and Arcane Blast for offensive spells, but you'll likely never use these since they're expensive and you could be doing better things with your focus.  His other offensive spell, however, is Earthquake, which is quite an amazing spell.  This will likely be used to make sure that you finish off a key target.  While it doesn't deal any damage, it does knock everyone down in the AOE (friendly or enemy) and what's most important is that even if you miss with your attack roll, there's still a change of knocking down your target - especially if you can get within 5" of the target because then you'll be guaranteed to knock them down!  Earthquake is an incredibly powerful spell when used correctly and has won me the game on a couple of occasions.

The three other spells that Stryker sports are also common spells throughout the faction, but the fact that he has all three is eyebrow-raising.  He sports Arcane Shield, Snipe, and Blur - all three are amazing upkeeps to have at your disposal.  Arcane Shield, of course, is one that everyone looks to toss onto the Stormwall, and you'd be absolutely right, except I do things a little differently.  I'll come back to that later, though.  While Blur will not likely see use on the Stormwall (DEF 13 against ranged attacks is not terribly great), it certainly is fantastic for keeping Stryker resilient to ranged/magic attacks.  I quite often throw Blur onto a unit of Sword Knights to keep them alive as they move up the field or I keep it on Stryker to make even RAT/Focus/Fury 7 warcasters/warlocks wary of trying to assassinate Stryker.  If I can find concealment/cover/elevation, then I'm nearly impervious to any attacks at a distance and that means they have to get within striking distance of the Stormwall instead.  Lastly, Snipe is amazing for the Stormwall too, as those big guns will be reaching nearly across the field and it also means that your Covering Fire templates can get where you need them - especially on first turn.  The downside, of course, is that this means that the Stormwall doesn't have Arcane Shield on him, but I'll come back to that.

Lastly, the great advantage to running pStryker with the Stormwall is the feat.  Stryker's feat is already pretty awesome but for those players who bring along upkeep-hate, they will still have a tough time damaging that Stormwall during feat turn.  I've had Tartarus and half a unit of Bane Thralls charge the Stormwall on feat turn and they did a grand total of 12 points of damage.  I don't care how many dice you roll when I'm ARM 25 - even with your silly Death Shroud.  With Arcane Shield and the feat, the Stormwall will sit comfortably at ARM 27 and that guarantees he'll be able to take charges from even the most dangerous units.  With such an expensive and powerful model, being able to guarantee it's survival for an extra turn can mean all of the difference in a game.

Here's the list that I've been running with great success:
pStryker (+6)
- Ol'Rowdy (9)
- Stormwall (19)
- Squire (2)
Journeyman (3)
Stormsmith (1)
Stormsmith (1)
Sword Knights (full, 6)

It's simple, straight-forward, and hits like a truck.  Like I said earlier, the Sword Knights will often be sporting Blur and I park them right in front of the Stormwall to both keep it safe from getting engaged but it also means they can benefit from Flank even if it does get engaged.  2" melee range with a huge base is great for giving those Sword Knights some extra punch.  I decided to take two Stormsmiths instead of the UA for the Sword Knights because I figured I should take advantage of being able to triangulate with the Lightning Pods from the Stormwall, and Disruption is useful against enemy warjacks.

You'll notice that I brought a Journeyman along too, despite Stryker already having Arcane Shield.  The reason why is that Stryker actually puts his Arcane Shield onto Ol'Rowdy (making him ARM 23) and the Journeyman's job is to protect the Stormwall.  Why?  Well this way I can cycle Snipe onto the Stormwall each turn and then the Journeyman will just throw Arcane Shield back onto him at the end of the turn.  This way I get the most efficiency out of the Colossal and it only costs the Journeyman an extra focus - less important on the solo than on Stryker!

The great thing about Stryker is that he has 3 solid upkeeps and then not much else to spend his focus on - except his warjacks.  Ol'Rowdy runs and charges for free and Stryker doesn't have many spells he'll want to cast, so he'll often want to just upkeep his spells and throw 3 focus onto the Stormwall since he can afford it.  If I need a lot done, the Squire is still there with a spare focus if I need it, and being able to re-roll the attack roll with Earthquake is the icing on top.

What this list brings is pure efficiency.  While it might appear to have problems with infantry hordes, remember that Covering Fire will be able to keep most infantry at bay until I've neutralized key threats, and those Stormsmiths will be able to have some fun with Triangulation to deal with infantry as well.  Even if my opponent does get close, I don't really care because with Ol'Rowdy sitting at ARM 28 and the Stormwall sitting at ARM 27 on my feat turn, I'll be able to take whatever you throw at me and probably be able to counter-punch you in the groin or shoot you in the face with some big guns.
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