So! When last we met, I talked about some of the things I think people were expecting of Stryker 3. How I think he ought to be played is a little different. Before I get too far, here’s my list:
Lord General Coleman Stryker (+5)
Officer and Standard (3)
Min Storm Lances (7)
Min Tempest Blazers (6)
Journeyman Warcaster (3)
Major Katharine Laddermore (5)
These are the things I have discovered about him that fascinate me: One, he is *still* not an aggressive caster! Hilariously, he does what Cygnar often does: ranged dominance that draws the opponent into counterattack range. His countercharge in this case is better than most other Faction casters. Personally, I found the things he wants and the style that works best for him is keeping his ranged elements mobile, and the unsung capacity of storm lances to be amazing ranged troops is actually something that makes them scary as hell. I play with the blazers on one side harassing what they will, and generally being mobile while taking advantage of their pathfinder. The lances move up with laddermore and she charges them up to rat 7, pow 14 with electro-leap. They ride-by and use reform to hit and run as well as the blazers do, but with pow 14 shots. It’s actually quite impressive.. The stormblades are there to hold the middle and be scary countercharges while powering the ‘clads. Also blocking charge lanes and the like. Honestly, you haven’t lived until you’ve watched three of them charge and obliterate a heavy on the feat turn. The heavies take point with combat upkeeps and wait for their moment when the enemy moves into their threat range. And they will, provided you command the ranged advantage in earnest.
The sentinel sits near Stryker, giving him his escort bonus and, critically, a shield guard. Which brings me to my second surprising feature of Stryker 3–he is way more survivable than he looks. That little sentinel dancing around with him means he is almost always sitting on 15/18 with a shield guard, and that makes shooting him just south of a good play, particularly when he’s camping a bunch. I should also mention I’ve been thrilled with the spd 8 on the sentinel and the rat 6, no-focus-required little problem-solving chain gun too. He gets rid of offending little jammers quite well when needed, but most of the time, he’s doing his job just by sitting there–making Styker an unfeasible ranged assassination. Oh yes, and the Jr. applies the arcane shield exactly where it’s needed–the lances. They are juuuust in the vulnerable range without it. When they’re sitting on arm 20, it’s a whole new ball game. This is sort of my point. The strategy is to be just hard enough and just fast enough to be out of range and nailing people with guns until the opponent is forced to commit, whereupon you pounce and gut their army.
Surprising feature number 3: Stryker 3 draws from the squire on turns one and three, not two. Not a big deal in and of itself! It’s just very distinct. He wants to draw turn one so he can get all his upkeeps out. Simple! After that, he’s upkeeping and camping the rest while the stormclads’ free focus gets them where they need to be, or boost a generator blast if the opponent is feeling saucy for some reason. Not that they ought to, just that sometimes an Eiryss needs an electo-leap to the face or you risk losing escort. That’s worth a stormblade sticking his neck out. Stryker’s turn two should be “we are in position”, camping three. He’s upkept three spells, one on himself and each jack. So with escort and next to his little buddy the sentinel, he’s sitting on 15/21 with a shield guard. Not a bad place to be. On that same turn two, Laddermore leads the way with a ride-by, moving up, taking a shot with her gun, which is rat 7 pow 14 and electro-leap, moving back again, but not so far that the lances will be more than five inches away when they make their shot, they do it, move back and re-form, in position to charge in on turn three. The blazers do what they do. Turn 3 starts, Stryker draws, hands out two to each stormclad and upkeeps. The feat turn begins. He advances and the jacks assault their targets and obscene distance away and hit them like nuclear-powered mack trucks fired from orbit. Dear god this is fun. I took down Mulg behind a wall with it when the first electro-leap fried the stone. My opponent needed to stretch the area of effect to reach the champs with it, and so it was too close.. Another opponent underestimated how far the clads could reach, and I tagged a pureblood with my initial attacks. Of course I had to send two stormblades after the griffon blocking him, but they made short work of it. Ah, when defence means nothing.. It just feels nice to *kill* things with this army once in a while, you know? Not grind off its limbs first until it collapses under its own weight–instead smash it to rubble.
Now, I set out here to vindicate Stryker 3 in light of the ire he suddenly seemed to be earning from people who didn’t get what was promised out of him. I didn’t and don’t want to make him into that. He isn’t. In fact, I found him quite surprising! I also don’t want people thinking that this incredibly versatile faction can only be played effectively one way. Are all the difficulties I mention above a deal-breaker? Not at all! Work with him and he’ll be amazing. Does it make him in our top 5? Not yet, anyway. He can reach peaks of damage output undreamt of by Cygnar casters until now, but to really make it happen you need to work in those narrow margins and you need to be prepared to deal with those drawbacks, at least as I see it. Maybe something new will come down the pipe to make him just perfect, but until then, I want to practice with him and get good, even if he’s not a tournament drop. There may very well be a build or two out there now that no one has put together yet that takes him over the top. One caveat to that–I think he is an absolute star against something like a Convergence army. I may end up writing a list literally tailored to fighting CoC just with him. The spread-out, case-cracking potential there is incredible. Just watch out for high powered control casters.
My two cents! He’s a B-. 😉