With the close of the Charsaug league at our FLGS, I thought it was time to report how the Invisible Army had fared. Long story short, not too badly at all. I won more games than lost, and along the way I learned a few things about Khador beyond “Man, these warjacks have a lot of armour”.
Heavens forfend, the Kossites played a noteworthy role in many of the games. In the last one, a 50pt game against Pal George and his Trollkin, Squad A was able to take down a Fell Caller, some Krielstone attendants, and to put some arrows into the backs of some Champions. Squad B took down two Thumper crewmen, and almost all became aperitifs in the end, they were essentially able to keep a Dire Troll Blitzer out of the game. One game, they even managed to take down a Bane Thrall UA Champ. Yes, their stats are mediocre as all heck, but with back arc bonuses they’ll hit most support models on average rolls, and in the very least you know they’ll be ignoring shield walls. They’re stymied by higher DEF and higher ARM, but as a general rule that’s not what you find on support models.
I had postulated that I’d need to hit max FA on Greylord Ternions to make the list work, and after playing it at 50pts (we were escalating throughout the league) I’m convinced. Their blizzards were invaluable for shielding the advancing army, as expected, and being able to put 27” of cloud effects on the board without needing to look at my warcaster’s FOC was a neat thing. I was able to dictate the terms of engagement in many cases throughout the league simply by ensuring my opponent couldn’t see my Spriggan at all. Also, unloading half a dozen sprays on units packed in close to take advantage of auras? It’s a thing.
MANHUNTERS & YURI
Aside from the Warjacks, the Manhunters are the only things in the list capable of denting heavy armour, and even then you’re largely reliant on charging. Still, having little cruise missile weapon masters rocking around can really ruin your opponent’s day when they get stuck in. Also, it turns out, reasonably efficient at hunting light warjacks and warbeasts. Oddly enough, though, I found their real value in the list wasn’t killing things. I’ll get to that in a moment.
WIDOWMAKERS & MARKSMAN
Their ability to snipe out single wound models is legendary, and appropriately so. Conversely, their utility against heavy warjacks is limited if you’re lacking something to put some bulk damage down. Yes, they can snipe out that last box of Cortex, but you need something to have crumpled the hull first. As with the Manhunters, though, their main value to the list wasn’t in killing things, as capable as they were at doing that. As with many lists, it’s not a matter of what any single model can do, but what they can do when paired with others.
The Spriggan was essential. While most Khadoran warcasters have a means of speeding up their warjacks, Old Witch does not, and instead relies on hampering the opposing advance in order to secure the alpha strike. Having Reach on its lance means the Spriggan is the only Khadoran heavy with an inbuilt threat range higher than 7 ½”. Caveat: Grolar will be able to hit 9 ½” once it’s released at the cost of 1 FOC, and of course, Conquest has Reach too, but Grolar isn’t available yet and Conquest isn’t a Heavy 😉 Warjacks with decent ranged attacks are also on the docket for the list, which honestly has me thinking that the Demolisher and Decimator are both worthy of consideration given that they’re packing POW15 guns. Both will be tested further.
OLD WITCH AND SCRAPJACK
My personal proclivities normally lean towards warcasters that can “seal the deal” – that is, rocket in and score an assassination. Old Witch? Not an Assassination caster. Sure, she can wiggle her banana fingers at the squishier warcasters and warlocks out there, and POW13’s decent, but at MAT6 she’s not reliably up to the task. This, then, has left me trying to figure out how to use her for denial/scenario play since the limitations of the theme force make attrition difficult. Her feat is phenomenal for locking down the opposing army for a turn, and the three spells I used most with her also feed into hampering the opposing advance – Iron Flesh and Weald Secrets to mess with opposing attacks, and Murder of Crows to block more LOS.
Scrapjack survived to the end of a grand total of one game. This was in large part due to his having an 11 ½” threat range out of the gate, with boostable attacks, and an effective MAT 7 if he’s using Avatar of Slaughter. I found I was constantly sending him out to kick things, or even just to engage things that were circumventing the smokewall, and then he’d get smooshed… but usually only after leaving the model smooshing him in range for a charge from the Spriggan. His bond never once came into play, since it needs Old Witch to be hurt and given her own squishiness, if she was being hurt, she was pretty much dead.
So how did it all come together? To be honest, not exactly as I had originally envisioned. I had thought to use the Kossites as the targets for the Ternion Blizzards, placing a cheap, throwaway unit at effective DEF 16 and utilizing them to keep the smokewall shielding the rest of the army as it advanced, thus messing with opposing ranged attacks, et al, but in the end the Blizzards instead ended up on the Manhunters and Widowmakers.
The problem with Ternion Blizzards is that the 3” Cloud effect is removed if the model it’s centred on is killed, and DEF16 – while decent – is still quite hittable by range or magic attacks. What *isn’t* easily hittable when hiding in a cloud effect, is Manhunters – who inherently have Stealth – or Widowmakers, who sit at DEF18 in the clouds, or if you’re a jerk like me and cast Iron Flesh on them, they’re DEF21. Sure, your opponent can still see them to shoot or cast spells at them, but unless you’re talking the Harbinger tossing out Cataclysms, you’re looking pretty sweet. Accordingly, the Manhunters and Widowmakers – who already Advanced Deploy’d in front of the Ternions – became the targets for the Blizzards, while the Kossites actually did what their cards say they’re supposed to do and Ambushed.
The sheer mobility available to the Old Witch makes her an excellent warcaster for scenarios with multiple opportunities to dominate or control. We played the league scenario Dust Up on Monday night, and she was able to walk up to one Scrap Pile and claim it one turn, and then using Unseen Path, teleport to the neighbouring one and claim it the next, for a scenario win. Outside of the theme having her this far upfield may have been a risky proposition, but thanks to the cloud effects, at no time up until the very last turn did my opponent have LOS to her to even attempt a charge or ranged attack (at which time she’d transferred Iron Flesh to herself). Similarly, with Kossites running around and being goofy in his back lines, my opponent was forced to either turn and deal with them, thus hampering the advance, or risk backstrikes.
The thing that’s most notable about The Invisible Army, I think, is that it’s the first theme force I’ve kicked tires with that actively caps. Every other theme force I’ve goofed around with increases the Field Allowance on something in it, or otherwise has a unit that’s naturally FA U. This theme force has neither. Kossites are capped at two units. Greylords, at three. Widowmakers at one, Mechaniks at three. There’s no increase on the FA for any of the solos, so as the list escalates, the only things you can add to the list are more Warjacks. The list I played on Monday night had every solo and every unit allowed except the Mechanics, all at max FA, along with a Spriggan and a Decimator. If I brought max FA on the Mechaniks, all at full size units, that’d total another 9 pts, so to play anything higher than 50pts I’m looking at needing to add more heavies, or a Conquest. Old Witch likes casting her spells; I only had two heavies in the list and still I found myself only using one of them to any real efficiency each turn. Adding more heavies? Not really viable.
So while most theme forces are balanced to come into their own at the 50pt mark (granted, many are awesome at lower point levels), the Invisible Army really can’t play any higher without falling apart under the weight of its own warjacks.
Am I done goofing around with the list? Hell no. I still need to decide which ‘jack loadout I’m most comfortable with, and there’s an unpainted Conquest on my bookshelf – yes, I do intend to try it in her theme force… but I think I’m coming to terms with just what the list is supposed to do. While the Kossites may not be as integral as I’d expected, the Greylords certainly are.
S’all about the pointy-bearded gits in capes.
Addendum: Played one more game since this article was originally drafted, touching on something I’d completely forgotten to mention. I’ve been using the Greylords for clouds and sprays… but they also have Ice Cage. Yes, it requires three hits to achieve full effect, but when you start the game with nine Greylords on the board and they spend the first couple of turns safe behind cloudwalls, thus ensuring that the bulk of them will be close enough to your primary target(s)? Chances are if you focus your efforts you’ll get the job done. In the game in question, seven were still alive on the last turn of the game; Four Ice Cage’s later and Absylonia was stationary, meaning the other three were able to spray for damage on a frozen target, bleeding off transfers before the Spriggan and Decimator opened fire. Low RAT isn’t an issue if the target’s a popsicle… which makes me look at Kossites once again… hrm…