The Machine Stops: Dealing With Convergence, Part IX — The Warcasters: Aurora (The Second Part)

autojack80Good evening, fellow Losties! Time once again to jump in the TARDIS and stop the Cybermen!

When last we left off [LINK! – Gday], we were in the process of breaking down the first of the five warcasters of the Convergence of Cyriss, Aurora, the Numen of Aerogenesis. We’ve taken a look at her feat, her vital statistics and her special rules, now it’s time for her spell list, her theme force, and some general thoughts on fighting her!

 

Her Spell List

Aurora-Numen-of-AerogenesisSo what’s under the hood on the days she’s not dropping out of the sky on your caster like a peregrine falcon? Well, truthfully, we’ll be hard-pressed to find a caster without a respectable spell list in the entire faction. Aurora comes equipped with a few moneymakers. We’ve discussed Flashing Blade, but when she’s not using it to kill you, she can easily throw a clockwork angel in the mix at key targets so that she can eliminate them quickly in the midfield, provided she can escape easy retaliation. Her defenses are not enormous, however, and without Sprint or Teleport, one should expect she’ll keep it to herself unless the run is on. She does, however, have another suitable tool in the box, in the form of Admonition! Notorious a spell as it is, making casters very difficult to kill in melee, and with access to Steelsouls to shield guard her, she can be surprisingly difficult to kill, and the threat she commands with flank means she may end up in the mix after all. Admonition, for the uninitiated, states that if an enemy model ends its movement (any movement–counter charges included) within 6″ of her, she may immediately advance 3″, ignoring free strikes. Often when a caster wades in with this spell on them, players can stop it either by stripping upkeeps, such as with hex blasts, purification or an effect like Admonia’s (of Withershadow Combine fame), where she can strip enemy upkeeps from models within 5″. Eiryss2 can strip upkeeps from her with a well-placed arrow, but remember, if Aurora has access to shield guard and is saving it’s use for anything, it will be for Eiryss’s crossbow. Don’t count on it. Usually, there is a tactic wherein certain models in a unit, for example, will be used to goad the triggering of Admonition before she is engaged by the model she is anticipating. So, for example, if Aurora is in threat range of a Titan Bronzeback, for example, the Skorne player may suddenly attempt to surround her with Praetorian Swordsmen before she can be engaged by the Bronzeback, either goading her to use admonition too early, or allowing her to become surrounded and have nowhere to go! While this strategy is perfectly valid against targets like Morghoul1 or Ashlynn D’Elyse, It is far less effective against Aurora who simply flies over such models. It is better to try and strip it where possible. As previously stated, for a number of reasons, Aurora’s army is difficult to lock down. Because of the natural speed of her jacks, however, it will often prove more beneficial to her to place it on a vector to give it a quick and easy escape route from retaliation. In this case, it will be easier to stop because of base sizes and a lack of flight.

Another spell in her repertoire is True Path. As mentioned before, this spell allows for her *infantry* to become as mobile as her vectors, giving all warrior models (and units!) in her control area +2″ of movement and pathfinder for one turn. Slightly expensive at cost 3, it will be a spell she casts often in order to maintain her mobility theme. This is a big deal, not just because it makes up for the deficiency in speed that Convergence as a whole possesses, but because it also hands out *pathfinder*–another notable weakness shored up. While terrain may often be an advantage in dealing with Convergence, it will not be with her. While it may not affect her vectors, the optifex directive most certainly aids in this regard, handing out pathfinder to vectors where necessary. If terrain negotiation would be an issue for the vectors at all, the optifex directive will be a prime target. Even with True Path, it will force her army to become divided, and Napoleon at least in this regard was right–divide and conquer. As far as infantry goes, however, there are very few Convergence units that will not appreciate True Path. If not because they can bring their sprays closer to the enemy, then because the shield wall troops will be able to march faster through terrain while in shield wall formation. It is a cornerstone of her capabilities.

Further augmenting her synergies with troops is a spell infrequently seen but incredibly useful in its application, which is Transference. With a large focus stack, Aurora will likely be hiding in cover, waiting for the moment to Apparition and dive bomb the enemy caster, casting True Path and upkeeping this spell. Critically, it allows infantry to use her focus to boost melee attack and damage rolls. This means that with Aurora, shield walling troops are able to advance easily and quickly, take position to be charged, endure it, and follow up with boosted attack and damage rolls if need be. Even heavy jacks need to be concerned about this ability. Fortunately there is not an abundance of weapon masters in the faction, but reciprocators with boosted pow 14s from their halberds can project a great deal of power. While their virtues are highly praised under most casters and circumstances, in this case it is particularly so. What’s more is that it allows the Convergence infantry to boost attack rolls. This is fairly dramatic, and a brilliant way of engaging with high-DEF infantry without resorting to CMAs or def debuffs for melee troops. Many players however feel disinclined to tax their caster’s stack to boost attack and damage rolls from infantrymen, so you can play a game of goading your opponent into using the ability too much before punishing Aurora with a few high-POW ranged shots after her stack has been depleated. More often though, you will find players do not respect the spells uses enough to cast it. Nevertheless, a canny Convergence player will. Ensure you have some way of putting damage on Aurora if her focus drops too far, and tempt her to use the spell. The best position you can be in is forcing your opponent to make choices. It means they are playing the game on your terms, and you have them on the back foot.

While less often seen, Aurora’s signature spell is Bladed Gale. This is a spray 8 offensive spell with a hefty cost 3, but it hits hard at POW 13. On top of that, it causes models hit to lose Flight for one round. And as a Legion player, let me tell you: an Angelius flopping around on the ground like a toothy, overgrown earthworm is a sorry sight [And yet, I’m smiling… – Gday]. The spell on its own, while interesting, is generally seen as too expensive to be cast on a regular basis. There is one way in which this spell can catch a player dramatically off-guard, however, and that is when it is cast through the Algorithmic Dispersion Optifex. The ADOs are cheap and tend to hang out around the line of vectors, from where they arc spells. There is nothing an army that takes the alpha strike on the chin before repairing and counterstriking loves more than a surreptitious little ADO climbing out from behind the jack wall to spray the engaging enemy line with a magic attack roll with FOCUS 7 and a POW 13. That will bring an abrupt end to your dreams of locking down the Convergence battle line with Iron Fang Pikemen or Houseguard Halberdiers. If there are any in the enemy list, assess your options in engaging them. If it involves locking up the battle line in melee, and there are ADOs across the board, as soon as you’ve dealt with the Clockwork Angels, dispose of these tiny arc nodes. You will be glad you did.

Her Theme Force: Maidens of Gears

I don’t know that I’ve had a chance to mention this is previous instalments, but on the subject of theme forces, those of the Convergence of Cyriss are remarkably easy, and often *very* obviously effective. This will come up a little more when we discuss a few of the other casters (Axis in particular), but I want to get a word in about each of the caster’s theme forces and what kind of advantages they provide.

Aurora’s is very limited in the sense that she is allowed only Optifex and Clockwork Angel units. Considering the number of infantry options that benefit from her remarkable spell list, one should think carefully before attempting this list. It is, however, a specialized one. She is allowed the whole suite of vectors, as per usual, no battle engines (sorry TEP), the aforementioned unit restrictions, and of solos, she is allowed Optifex and Servitor solos, Steelsoul Protector solos, and solos with flight. As of yet, there are none of these, but it is a tantalizing suggestion of new Convergence goodies on the horizon. Aurora’s tier 1 benefit is that Clockwork Angel units and Steelsoul Protector solos have their FA increased by two. This is good–she wants lots of both. This means she can have up to five Clockwork Angel units and four Steelsoul Protectors. At tier 2, if she has taken at least three Angel units, they each gain stealth during the first round, making your job of keeping them under control to prevent the assassination run that much harder. At tier 3, if she has taken at least one Steelsoul Protector, Steelsouls gain Advance Deployment. At tier 4, if she has taken at least 3 heavy vectors, they gain Advance Move.

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This army lends itself to a blitzkrieg approach, doing everything possible to harass and assassinate the enemy while taking the board early. The secondary feature of this army is the plethora of Steelsouls. This is to guard Aurora, who is the most vulnerable of the Convergence casters to assassination. While she has the distinction of having the highest DEF of any Convergence caster, it comes with a comparatively low ARM stat. While Admonition and high speed as well as Apparition and Refuge will do a great deal to aid her in staying alive, her emphasis on mobility is at odds with the usual approach of a tanking battle-line of vectors. A canny opponent will press this advantage and spread wide, encouraging the breaking of the battle line so as the Convergence player will leave Aurora exposed through gaps. Her greatest weakness is being shot. She tends to run fast and spend focus. It is for this reason that in all her lists, players worth their salt will run her with two Steelsouls. They are worth their weight in gold to her, and it is advantageous to take advantage of multiple ranged options to bring her down by volume of fire. It won’t take much beyond the two she can pass off to the Steelsouls, and if you are able to disable their ability by knocking them down or making them stationary, pulling them out of guard range with a careful telekinesis or force hammer, she can be brought low with 4-5 high powered shots. Arcing fire or Awareness will also prove advantegous, as it will prevent the vector battle line from protecting her. As a Cygnar player, Seige will put not only her, but *most* Convergence casters in an early grave–provided their Steelsouls are put to sleep early. If you have a way to shoot her down, they become instantly priority number two. Remove them. If she is playing in theme force, she may pack 4. In that case, shooting her down is simply no longer viable without some grand capacity to disable them simultaneously.

Final Thoughts

Aurora is fast. She comes in fast and can assassinate quickly, and the rest of the time, she shores up her faction’s inherent weaknesses by making them faster and making them better able to negotiate terrain. Her vectors can reach stable firing positions, where they can aim and benefit from other accuracy buffs to overcome their somewhat tarnished RAT 4. In melee, there may not be a vector with a more impressive MAT than 6, but they can get there astonishingly easily, and can hit and run under her feat, if she’s not using it to assassinate you. She can also improve the speed of her infantry, aid them in negotiating terrain, and in landing hits on high DEF targets in melee. Why, then, does she rank at the bottom of my list? This is primarily for three reasons. For one, her primary move is telegraphed from miles away with hours of notice. Any player can counter that strategy with relative ease. Perhaps they will be caught off guard by it once, maybe even twice, but rarely more than that. They will camp their focus, leave no place for the Angels to land near the friendly caster, and remove them. For two, it is a proactive strategy for what is otherwise a reactive army. Certainly her focus on mobility makes that strategy more viable than it might in another faction, but the Convergence army strengths revolve around taking the hit rather than getting an alpha strike off. For all she does in the mobility front, it only brings them up to average-fast speeds. Armies like Legion or Circle require the ability to get their beasts and jacks reaching even greater than average-good speeds to hit home in a proper manifest alpha stike. For Aurora, this will still not be good enough. Finally, a great caster, to me, emphasizes the faction’s strengths while opening up heretofore unseen options. Aurora, on the other hand, narrows options to the predictable, and shores up weaknesses, making her army all-around average, rather than particularly good. This is not to say, again, that Aurora is a bad caster–far from it. She is just predictable, and can only do so much beyond her principal strategy, which is the assassination run. Take note, those who would seek to clip her wings! Bring the right tools to defend against her assassination run, keep calm, and shoot her down.

Good luck!!