The G’dossier: Xerxis, Fury of Halaak – pt 3

When we’re talking about a model with as heavy a melee focus as Xerxis, Fury of Halaak, it will likely come as no surprise to find his spell list is a little… scarce… but nonetheless we’re going to spend today looking at Xerxis’ spell card. Granted, things are going to get a little more exciting once we flip the card over to look at his feat, but one thing at a time. Welcome to the third instalment of the G’dossier, for which you can thank Mr Max Dextersmith and his whimsical ways.

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Xerxis has never been the kind of guy to spend Fury all over the place. His initial version, Tyrant Xerxis, had 5 Fury and three spells to his name, which is in part why his lists are often so infantry-centric. You can’t run a swarm of Titans with only 5 Fury, not only because of issues with Fury management, but also because a 10” control area – while not totally insignificant – is definitely on the more humble side of things. You might be forgiven for thinking that Xerxis, Fury of Halaak, suffers from the same concerns and thus will also be infantry-centric, but my thought is that that he has more wiggle room than his earlier incarnation. We’ll talk more about that when we get to the Feat, but first, spells….

Ignite

Friendly model/unit gains +2 to melee damage rolls and Crit Fire on normal melee attacks. This is a very simple yet quite effective buff for, well, anything. Be it applied to Xerxis himself, one of his beasts, one of his units, or even (heaven forbid) to a Siege Animantarax. 2pts of extra damage could mean the difference between your praetorians cracking a shield wall, or being smote by retaliatory action from Temple Flameguard. It could mean the difference between the opposing warlock taking the hit, or being forced to spend his last Fury to transfer damage.

Oh, and setting things on Fire is, of course, a personal favourite thing of mine. Granted, for non-boosted rolls the chances of rolling a critical aren’t high, but we’ve got that Feat coming up in a few paragraphs…

Mobility

Hands down one of my favouritest things ever. Yes, in larger tournaments there isn’t always a heap of terrain on the board, but granting Pathfinder to your battlegroup still goes a long way, and the +2 SPD means those Aradus Soldiers are scuttling that much faster, or your Bronzeback is pummeling that much deeper. The fact that you can add 2” of threat to your entire battlegroup is an indicator that maybe, just maybe, you should consider playing Xerxis2 a little more beast-heavy than you did Xerxis1. We’re already mentioned Xerxis’ own increased threat range with Mobility in the previous installment.

There is a risk of losing control of your warbeasts if they go too far out of your control area, but again, hold on for that Feat.

Stranglehold

There are some Warcasters and Warlocks in this game completely lacking in a zot spell. Something they can just fire off for a quick magic zap as needed. As zots go, Stranglehold is a decent toy. COST 2, RNG 10, POW 11, and you can force the target model – if you damage it – to forfeit either its movement or its action during its next activation. This makes unengaged melee models primary targets, since if they forfeit their movement they can’t move to engage, and if they forfeit their action they can’t swing once they’ve walked up. Larger targets are also a good idea for Xerxis, since, well, FURY 5 means he’s not the most accurate sod out there with his offensive spellcasting. Stranglehold cannot be shaken with FOCUS or FURY either, so targeting warnouns is a valid thing.

In almost all cases Xerxis will want want to be hitting things with Lamentor rather than casting zots, but to have the option is a good thing.

… and of course it should be noted, all of these spells cost 2, so Aptimus Marketh can help out with a handy Ignite or Stranghlehold as needed…

HAND OF THE ANCIENTS

Alrighty, now we’re talking… As smashtastic as Rhinoxeris is, this feat is pretty bananas for what it brings to his army. Let’s break it down into its two notable components.

All models are in Xerxis’ control area

This is flippin’ key. When you’ve only got a 10″ control area, you have a limited effective influence zone on the board. Granted, Xerxis’ is boosted by it being 10″ measured around a 120mm base, but you can still only send your warbeasts so far away, you still have to have your pocket transfer target warbeast only so far behind you, and, well, your feat only affects so much of the board.

This line of the feat says “Sod that!” and, while it doesn’t strictly speaking expand your actual control area, all models are considered to be within it for any effects that are based on control area. Strictly speaking, every model in the whole damn world is considered in Xerxis’ control area when he pops his Feat… at any one time, your models are probably within at least half a dozen control areas thanks to international players… but I digress.

With every model considered to be in his control area, it means Mobility affects your battlegroup no matter how far you’ve spread them out on the board, and it means you can send that alpha strike assassination firing anywhere on the board, because not only is that Bronzeback on the far flank still in your control area for Mobility, you can still Force it, and…

Friendly Faction models/units gain an additional die on attack and damage rolls. Discard one die from each roll.

The chances of rolling a crit on 2d6 isn’t a lot. The chances of rolling a crit on 3d6 is somewhere just shy of 50%, iirc. Remember that CritFire we talked about with Ignite? Your unit of Ignited Praetorian Swordsmen now each have two 50% chances of setting targets on fire. You immediately ramp up not only the chance of Suruk knocking everything down (yes, the rhino is actually a Cerops named Suruk – thought I should mention it sooner or later), but you also ramp up your chances of scoring higher damage rolls across  the board, and this is before you even consider adding additional dice for boosting.

If this ability sounds familiar, that’s because it’s essentially an improved version of Vlad1’s Signs & Portents – improved in that you don’t *have* to discard the lowest dice, so you’ve got the option of utilizing it for Crits if they’d still connect, and of course, it affects a much larger portion of the board thanks to the expanded control area. Oh, and it doesn’t cost any Fury, while Signs & Portents costs Vlad 4 of his 7 Focus.

So for a feat, Xerxis gets to use one of the most expensive spells in the game, for free, with added versatility and an unlimited area of effect. Oh, and there’s that controlling warbeasts that are further than 10″ away thing too, because that’s a thing.

Not bad, old chap…

Next time: Footsteps of Giants.