by Chris “Hysteresis” Cawthorn, and totally not an outright trolling of Jordan “JDWhitee” White. Ahem.
So, the Lost Hemisphere blog is a thing again! After accidentally ruining Gday’s stealthy relaunch via Twitter, it seemed the decent thing to offer my services and contribute an article or two, so here I am.
Now, those who know me will be well aware that I’m a fan of the big turtle (or Stompy, as I call him). It’s no coincidence that he’s taken pride of place as my avatar. Unfortunately, pretty much everyone else seems to disagree with me. With accusations of being “The Worst Battle Engine” or “A Pretty Paperweight”, I know I’ve got my work cut out defending the Animantarax, but hey! This is Lost Hemisphere! Here we champion the underloved, and make up for our lack of skill by rogueing the meta. I’ve been running Stompy in big and small events for quite a while now, and I’d like to share what I’ve learned. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list of tips, just a few nuggets that I’ve found from my own, often painful experiences.
The Animantarax’s basic abilities are often derided in the forum world. Let’s take a look at some of the common complaints, and try to look on the bright side.
- It would be nice if Rage Tokens were easier to come by, or if they could be used to boost ranged attacks. Yes, it would, but they can’t. Get over it. Even so, the Cantankerous and Hyper Aggressive rules tend to make opponents reluctant to tackle the Animantarax from range – a boosted P+S19 charge attack is still something to worry about!
- The tail attack doesn’t have Thresher. Indeed. But, when we’re talking about a model that can generate 7 attacks on its own, asking for more just seems… greedy! At MAT 7, it’s still quite capable of taking out a few infantry models while blazing away at heavier targets with the its Double Reiver.
- RNG 10 is too short. Really? On a model that can charge and still fire? That makes for a threat range of 17” with absolutely no help needed. If you want more, then you can always take a Cyclops Raider to boost it up to 21” with Far Strike.
- You need to pay so many points in support to make it useful. False. You can pay as much or as little in support as you like. I rarely field it without a Basilisk Krea, for the ranged defense as much as the Paralysis debuff, but that’s only because the Krea makes most of my lists anyway. After that, you can throw points at a Cyclops Raider, Extoller Soulward and so on, or you can choose not to. I tend to like to use my Animantarax as a something that can operate independently, so leave most of the support staff at home.
Like most things, ol’ Stompy shines more with some Warlocks rather than others…
(Credit to ChainAttackTrev for this)
- Memes aside, I think the Animantarax has quite a nice synergy with Void Seer Mordikaar. The only thing he really offers is the feat, but +3 DEF on something as durable as the Animantarax is a pretty big deal. It forces most heavies to boost to hit for fear of being pushed away by Poltergeist, and that tends to mean that they can’t finish him off. If the opponent has to commit a second heavy to to finish the job, well, I hear Bronzebacks quite like it when multiple heavies clump together…
- Like Mordikaar, Tyrant Xerxis can also make use of an Animantarax. Also like Mordikaar, the main synergy comes from his feat. Thanks to its immunity to pushes, slams and throws, the Animantarax can be a good anchor providing that +2 ARM to everyone in contact with that huge base. Just be careful that it doesn’t get in the way of your infantry – Martial Discipline won’t let them walk through a few tons of turtle! While we’re talking about Xerxis, don’t discount the idea of slapping Fury on the Animantarax, especially if it manages to grab a Rage Token or two. Once the spears get above P+S15, it can be an unexpected threat in melee.
- Lord Assassin Morghoul is another favourite of mine, and is probably worthy of another article all on his lonesome. However, we’re talking about the Animantarax here. An extra +2 DEF from the feat is nice, but it pales in comparison to Mordikaar’s feat. What the Animantarax does like is having Morghoul blind a juicy heavy target, then open up with 2-4 POW 15 shots. You won’t kill stuff quickly, but with Silence of Death applied by a conveniently-located Bloodrunner can make sure that any aspects you manage to take off a beast stay absent for the following turn. This is what makes Morghoul2 one of my favourite picks against those pesky Legion players!
- You’ll notice I’ve left out what people regard as the ‘obvious’ synergy: Lord Tyrant Hexeris’ Black Spot spell can open the door to a huge number of attacks in ideal circumstances. I’d love to talk about it at length, but I’ve actually not tried out Hexeris yet, so I’m not going to engage in idle theorymachine. Besides, this article is getting long enough with actual experience!
Independent of Warlock, there are a handful of Skorne (and Minion) models that can be helpful to the Animantarax. Some are immediately obvious, some less so. Let’s take a look.
- Let’s start with the obvious one. The Cyclops Raider‘s Far Strike Animus provides a welcome +4 RNG, making it one of the premier support pieces for the Animantarax. Except that is isn’t. Slapping Far Strike on the Animantarax means that the Raider is restricted to RNG 10, and 5 points is a lot for something that’s just throwing out its animus every turn. “But wait,” you cry, “the Warlock can do it!”. This is true, but I find the Animantarax works better with lower FURY Warlocks, who can afford to run a smaller battlegroup, and the problem with those guys is that they don’t often have the fury to spare. Overall, the Raider is nice if you have the points for it, but I find the 5 point price tag fairly steep.
- On the other hand, the Basilisk Krea is pure gold. Paralytic Aura makes the Animantarax all be immune to non-boosted ranged attacks (which is better than hoping for a few Rage Tokens or a perfect Hyper Aggressive move, trust me). More importantly, tagging a heavy beast (especially a Warpwolf or an Angelius) with Paralysis can spell needly doom for it in short order once the Double Reiver can be brought to bear. Even if a kill isn’t on the cards, disallowing charges can keep heavies away from your (usually flanking) Animantarax for an extra turn or two.
- An Extoller Soulward can offer Eyeless Sight and Magical Weapon to the Double Reiver’s attacks. Great for tackling Incorporeal beasties, Vilmon, and Banes, but a bit lacklustre otherwise. Still, it’s not hard to find a couple of points for it.
- The Flayer Cannon neither benefits nor benefits from the Animantarax, but certainly has many of the same friends. Having up to 7 needle shots that can reach out and touch a KDed/Paralysed target can really cause some damage. I’ve even managed to kill Saeryn on her feat turn that way 🙂
- Incorporeal solos can be useful in any list, even if just as scenario zone contesters. With an Animantarax, they can perform the extra function of positioning themselves in ideal spots to allow the Animantarax to charge exactly where they want, when they want, and end up facing whichever direction they want. This really helps the big lug to overcome its greatest nemesis: linear obstacles. Void Spirits have the bonus function of occasionally scaring off infantry and making a damaging cloud effect to clog charge lanes now and then, but a simple Feralgeist can perform the charge-guiding role just as well for half the cost.
… and now, the end is near…
That’s about it for now, but let’s think about the point of this article. One of the great things about Warmachine and Hordes is that even the most ridiculed of models has a plethora of entertaining (and potentially devastating) synergies. Will they ever be as powerful as the standard A-list choices in the faction? No, of course not. I’d still probably rather take a Cannoneer or a big unit of Venators for the same cost as the Animantarax in my strongest lists, but I’m always happy to give Stompy a trot out to meet my foes. He’s surprised them more than once purely by virtue of being almost entirely unseen on the battlefields of Immoren.
So, which models in your faction seem to attract the same kind of hate as the Animantarax? Look at them again, and consider how they interact with everything else in the faction. Put them on the table, give them a try, and see what you come up with in the heat of battle. You might be surprised by the results…