Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Woldwrath preliminary thoughts

The stats for the Woldwrath were spoiled on the forums a few weeks before the No Quarter issue was officially released.  Some individuals had their own copies in advance for some reason, so I've had some time to reflect and collect my thoughts on the highly anticipated Circle Gargantuan.  While some mock the appearance of the Woldwrath (notably it's massive shoulder blades), it's technically the oldest of the gargantuans since we've had pictures of it from the original Iron Kingdoms RPG, before Warmachine even existed!  I'm eager to purchase my own model and I wish I could justify spending the money right now to have a friend pick it up for me from Gencon.  I've already commented on the viability of Gargantuans, in general, and specifically with the Mountain King, so where does that leave the Woldwrath?  It has some of the same challenges which face the Mountain King but it also has some different ones.  Let's take a closer look.

There are two common things that everyone loves to discuss the most when looking at the Woldwrath: Druid's Wrath (it's animus) and Spell Ward.  The animus is probably the most powerful animus in the game - it's grants an additional attack die for any spell which targets an enemy within 10" of the user.  Whoa!  Like I said, this is probably the best animus in the game, but it does have some limitations.  First, Circle is not a faction which is highly known for offensive spells.  Of course every warlock has their own offensive spell they can cast, but most of our warlocks focus on support spells and not slinging out offensive ones, which brings us to the second issue.

Spell Ward is great protection against enemy spells (particularly debuffs) but, in a faction which has an unusually high number of buffing spells, it's more of an annoyance than an advantage - at least it seems that way at first.  One thing that's important to note about Spell Ward that's different in Hordes is that it only prevents being targeted by spells - not Animi.  That's right, the Woldwrath can still be targeted by animi!  Now, don't get too excited yet, Circle doesn't exactly have a wide selection of animi that are useful for the Woldwrath since many of ours are 'Self' targeting.  Also, the warbeast needs to use the animus on the Woldwrath since it counts as a spell if the warlock casts it.  So which animi can be used? Wraithbane (Pureblood), Bounding (Gnarlhorn), and Tracker (Argus).  Tracker is very situational (360 LOS will only affect the ranged attack, not change the fields of fire) but the others are actually quite fantastic.

The Woldwrath actually doesn't have magical weapons and so Wraithbane can be a solution to that as well as making sure that it hit's as hard and as accurately as it's supposed to, and this can be huge with Stormwalls running around with Arcane Shield.  My favorites, though, has to be BoundingBounding is an often overrated spell but on the Woldwrath it's golden.  Most Colossals/Gargantuans are very slow, but with Bounding the Woldwrath can charge (for free!) an extra 2" and gets +2 on his charge attack.  Not only does this mean that the Woldwrath has a threat range of 12" now, but since it has auto-knockdown on it's fists, hitting with that charge attack at MAT 8 is awesome!  I've always loved the Gnarlhorn but now he's even more useful!

Another feature which needs consideration is that the Woldwrath is a construct and that means that except for Baldur, our warlocks will have a difficult time healing it when it loses its aspects.  Fortunately, Shifting Stones are common in most Circle lists anyway, but if you're using your stones to heal then you aren't using them to teleport other models.  Granted, the Woldwrath can't be placed, but you might still need to get your warlock or another key model into a key position, and that could mean the Woldwrath sits around without an aspect.  Fortunately, the Woldwrath has as many damage boxes as most of the Colossals and still only has 3 aspects so it's easier to get it fully-functioning, but in order to get the most of the Woldwrath you'll need him on the front lines, and that means potentially getting disabled, especially since his Spirit only has 12 boxes - hardly difficult to take out.

The Woldwrath does sport two P+S 19 fists, which is a solid +2 P+S higher than the Woldguardian, and they also spawn 4" AOEs of knock-down when they directly hit an enemy model!  Wow.  What's even more hilarious is that by the current wording of Sweep, those 4" AOEs will be spawned against each direct hit, potentially knocking down dozens of models from one attack.  That's absolutely huge!  His ranged attack isn't bad at all either.  It's a solid statline: RNG 14, POW 15, although it's Damage Type: Lightning, so that can be a problem against Cygnar, but otherwise it's impressive.  What makes it so great, though, is the fact that hitting a target means a psuedo-electro-leap onto another target, but both targets have 3" lightning storm AOEs placed on them that stay there for a turn!  This means you can have some great board control against infantry, although it's more difficult to use than pKrueger's feat (which just let's you place where they go).  Not shabby at all!
Holy crap!  He's HUGE!

The major downside with the Woldwrath, however, is the pricetag and lousy Fury 4.  While I understand why they made the Woldwrath fury 4, it does make it really hard to justify in any level other than 50+ points, since most Circle warlocks are sporting fury 7 and need to keep fueled.  Granted, the Woldwrath will be around longer than most warbeasts, but it still only has as much fury as a Warpwolf and most of the time you'll only want to go as far as forcing it 3 times so as to be able to transfer to it.  It's a tough decision to take the Woldwrath at 35 points and I'll have to wait until I get him on the table to see if it's worth it.

Alright, so let's break it down.  Who will benefit the most from having the Woldwrath in their battlegroup?  Here are my top 3:

Baldur the Stonesoul - I think this guy is probably the most obvious warlock to pair up with the Woldwrath.  eBaldur typically has a hard time dealing with high-ARM targets since he lacks Stone Skin to boost damage output.  Having a P+S 19 model around is very important to dealing with heavy targets for him.  While Roots of the Earth will only work on the Woldwrath during the feat turn, Spell Ward on the Woldwrath largely isn't a problem and Baldur can use Rock Wall to great effect with the Woldwrath to keep it alive from a wide variety of enemy targets, not to mention Elemental Communion.  On top of all of that, I generally have found eBaldur having too much focus out there with his constructs so I think the fury issue will be less pronounced with this guy, even at 35 points.  Also, Crevasse will be amazing with Druid's Wrath!

Cassius the Oathkeeper - This guy has needed some love since his release and he's fortunately had some since then, and the Woldwrath probably helps him out the most.  Where to begin?  Well Druid's Wrath will be quite wonderful for Cassius, who typically finds himself able to cast his spells but struggles to hit with them since he's only Fury 6 and that also means he won't be as starved for fury as others.  The Woldwrath's fists will also be quite hilarious during Cassius' feat turn, especially if you Sweep and knock down entire sections of your opponent's army!  Circle players have been waiting for a trick just like this and suddenly Cassius' feat is terrifying to enemy infantry.  Add into the equation that the Woldwrath's ranged attack for providing board control and the Woldwrath's huge base to hind behind, and Cassius becomes quite effective!  Also note that Cassius offers one of the few ways of increasing the damage output (both melee and ranged!) of the Woldwrath with Curse of Shadows.  I think I'll finally pick up Cassius now...

Krueger the Stormlord - Already considered one of the top warlocks for the faction, eKrueger and the Woldwrath have amazing synergy for each other.  The Woldwrath offers eKrueger some of the anti-infantry abilities of his primal form with it's ranged attack, Druid's Wrath is amazing with Krueger's spells (Gallows, Telekinesis, Lightning Storm), and offering some solid heavy-hitting that he needs in his battlegroup.  In exchange, Krueger offers the Woldwrath survivability, both against ranged attacks with Storm Wall and melee attacks with his feat.  Many players are already annoyed playing against eKrueger in scenarios but now it'll be even worse with a Woldwrath on the field!  Not only will he push people off of objectives but he'll be able to keep the opponent from engaging the Woldwrath for one extra turn!  What's also interesting here is that the Woldwrath can use its ranged attack on higher ARM infantry (like those in Shield Wall) and if it doesn't kill them, Krueger can push them away with his feat so they have to enter the lightning templates if they want to get back to their old position.  The Woldwrath and eKrueger will make a nasty combo indeed, although it'll be hard to justify at 35 points.

Honorable mention- Mohsar - Mohsar might appreciate the Woldwrath at 50+ points but often finds himself needing more models out there and 20 points is really hard to justify.  That said, Pillars of Salt will be great for keeping the Woldwrath alive and Curse of Shadows is again a fantastic way of improving the damage of the Woldwrath.  Also, Crevasse will love the animus, but at Fury 8, Mohsar didn't have much of a problem hitting with this spell before anyway.

I plan on writing up a couple of lists featuring the Woldwrath later this week so stay tuned!  I can't wait for this guy to drop...
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