Monday, April 01, 2013

Thinking Cap: Reeves of Orboros

I know what you're thinking. Anyone who's played with Circle has probably looked at Reeves, thought they were neat and then laughed when they saw the cost of the unit. Furthermore, anyone who's actually played with the unit will probably even agree that they are difficult to use effectively at best or lackluster at worst. They have some neat tricks with War Wolves but the synergy can be a bit off (if a War Wolf charges a target that you shot at, you'll have a hard time shooting that same target again to get another War Wolf in there to trigger Gang Fighter). Indeed, even the UA doesn't seem to offer much as Ranked Attacks is not as helpful when a ranged unit is the one that has the ability. To top it all off, they're pricey and if you really want to max out all of their synergies you're looking at 17 points (full unit + UA, 3 War Wolves, and the Reeve Hunter). That's a lot of points for a bunch of models which will still have a hard time. So I got to thinking and I may have found someone who could make them far more effective: epic Morvahna.

I know, it seems like a waste but hear me out. I was playing around with some lists with Morvahna and realized that they balanced her in such a way with her abilities where the synergies you'd expect to "break" her actually can't do that. Heart Eater won't work with Carnivore so Ravagers or the Blood Pack won't really work that great, Stalkers can't trigger Berserk on it, and neither will Morraig's Cleave (plus he's a character). I guess the Skinwalkers will be good with her but when you take that delicious UA you miss out on them being able to munch on corpses if you give them Carnivore and they sorely need that MAT boost. Plus, with Morvahna's feat you have to sacrifice your actions and so the models you bring back either have to hope for free strikes or out-surviving your opponent's turn. Plus it only works on living models so you can't use to bring back Woldstalkers, Shifting Stones, or extra Mannikins.

No, they have her locked up pretty tight and otherwise you'll be lacking any real support spells for your models and you'll just have to rely on cutting yourself to re-roll certain attacks. Don't get me wrong - it's a fantastic ability but you have to be careful not to hurt yourself too much for crappy attacks and she has no real spells beyond Carnivore to improve the effectiveness of your infantry. So I took a look at what else Circle has available and I took another look at Reeves and I think we have our first Warlock who might offer them something to make us look twice at them.

So let's again look at what we have in the complete Reeve module: a full unit (10) + UA (2) + Reeve Hunter (2) + 3 War Wolves (3) = 17 points. The UA offers the unit Ranked Attacks (admittedly not so great) but also offers them Swift Hunter which can be pretty useful. Plus, the standard can be nice if something scary comes along (and it always seems to come along when you least want it to). Let's also remember that the unit has CRA, RNG 12 crossbows (POW 10), Hunter (pretty awesome), and Snap Fire. Snap Fire actually has some bad synergy here with CRA but it's still okay when we consider how awesome Hunter is as an ability and remember that Nyss Hunters also have CRA and Hunter, but not Snap Fire. Again, the unit looks pretty good but not great. Let's look at the Reeve Hunter next - a model often overlooked because we rarely need another solo, let alone one that's not as great in melee as, say, the Lord of the Feast or Morraig or a White Mane. The hunter still isn't bad though. He's got two okay attacks and Quick Work combined with Snap Fire, meaning he could potentially clear out 5 infantry models if the situation is right and he also has Swift Hunter so that gives him some mobility on top of that. What's really interesting here is that Reeves in his command range (8) gain Camouflage.

This has some interesting implications since Morvahna has Fog of War. One of the main limitations of Fog of War with ranged armies is that all models gain Concealment in her control area - including enemy models - but if you're shooting with a unit that has Hunter, who cares anyway? What's nice though with the Reeves is that if they're in range of the Hunter, they will get Camouflage so they will get an extra +2 DEF from Fog of War meaning they'll be DEF 17 against ranged and magic attacks - not bad considering they're also ARM 13 so blast damage is less likely to kill them too! Okay, they're starting to look a little bit better now. Even if your opponent gets to the Reeves in melee and starts to chew them up, you still have a feat available to bring them back in hopes that you may even be able to use them the following turn. Hell, even the Reeve Hunter could be brought back since he's not a character model.

On top of all of this I think one of my favorite parts of all of this is the War Wolves. Remember how they seem to have poor synergy with their Sic Em ability, immediately charging a target hit by a Reeve attack? Well it doesn't specify a Reeve ranged attack and you have the option of having it charge a target that the Reeve Hunter hits in melee. Also, this ability triggers immediately and so this means that when you use Morvahna's feat, although the War Wolves have to forfeit their action, since Sic Em happens immediately, their ability can still trigger when they're brought back during her feat so you can feel free to throw them out there earlier in the game. Then you can just pop feat, place them in an ideal position, and have some reeves shoot at some targets and immediately Sic Em!

That still, of course, leaves one searching for a suitable target for Carnivore but I think that the Riphorn Satyr will be my favorite target for the spell, but there are some other heavies which could use some consideration. Regardles, I think that Morvahna can actually offer Reeves more than any other warlock Circle has available so far so they may be worth a second look. I'll leave you with the list that I put up on the Steam-Powered Gamer facebook page yesterday where there was some serious discussion. I don't suppose that the list is truly the most powerful out there, but it's one which I would like to play around with once all of the models I need are out there:

eMorvahna (+5)
- Gorax (4)
- Woldwatcher (5)
- Riphorn Satyr (9)
Druids of Orboros (7)
Reeves of Orboros (full, 10)
Reeve Hunter (2)
War Wolf (1)
War Wolf (1)
War Wolf (1)
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