Welcome to a Calamity Research Labs Log on Warmachine. I call this one "Spelling difficulties: Khador." Meaning: Difficulties with some spells in the Khadoran Arsenal. Enjoy!
One word in advance: This will not be about the usefulness or situativity of attack spells or somesuch. We all know and have to accept that you cannot expect attack spells to matter, or to be needed, depending on how the game goes. But aside from that, there are some spells which make you scratch your head, generally accompanied by the thought "How can I make this work to my benefit?"
So let's figure out the ugly guys first. For me, it started with Zerkova's twister, so I went to look for spells with similar issues. Means, I'll be ignoring Razor Wind, Grind, Air Burst, and Obliteration. Their uses are easy to figure, and their issues different.
That leaves me with Eliminator, Eruption, Rift, Twister and Wind Blast.
1) Eliminator. Many might right now wonder: Huh, which of our casters has Eliminator - and what does it do? Answer, Epic Butch does, and it's the AoE Attack spell which allows you to move 2" for every model killed by the spell. The problem is that Ebutch in general does not have a stable focus amount, and rarely needs more than two focus.
The movement it grants is as useful as you can make it - game winning at best - but the spell works best when using focus to boost damage on the blasts, which is an additional problem to the butcher. Vyros, who also has this spell, suffers less from it.
So, Eliminator is a choice when you roll high for focus (five or six), and need these extra inches to get you where the action really is (or should be), and when charging would take you in the wrong direction.
2) Eruption. Karchev knows this one, and I can see why: Any other caster would be running hot with this spell. Imagine prime Butcher with this instead of obliteration! On Karchev, however, it is an investment with his basic 5 focus. As the AoE stays around another turn with PoW 14 fire damage, it's not bad, but casting it means you're either not running jack heavy, or something very urgent came up.
Since Eruption is Fire damage, you can put it to some better use when also using Assault Kommandos and/or Torch. Their defense is low enough for Karchev to hit them. Putting Assault Kommandos ahead of Karchev, and casting Eruption on them allows you to direct the templates placing. It will also protect the Kommandos in the fire cloud, and block LOS to karchev as well. Remember, he can have enough focus for two eruptions, which is enough to create a solid 6" wall of burning clouds with a min Unit of AK's.
On another note, use Torch. Of course, this won't work so good if he is supposed to be sidearmed - but you can, for example, cast it on him, before he activates. Because then, he can walk out of the cloud (or remain in the template with a toe), and then drop his own smoke, which allows for an even wider LOS block for Karchev.
3) Rift. Strakhov's very own HUH? spell. It's main problem is that strakhov tends to be strapped for focus and concentrating on winning. I'm not saying that that is bad, but it leaves rift in an arkward position. Because, even though offensive, it has a defensive element to it, turning it's AoE into rough terrain.
Now, rough terrain isn't the life saver it was before, but anyone on the other side will most likely not reach you. The difficulty is getting that AoE where you want it. And as it has no damage type, infantry does not exactly qualify as a target.
You can, however, target it at jacks, before they move - but they'll either have to run or be Kodiaks, as the rough terrain affects all. The high khadoran base armor should shake off the worst. Depending on what the jacks face, it might pay off to just cast it on them to abort charges, or you might try a covered retreat: Two jacks close enough together. Strakhov casts Rift on both of them. They activate, and move/run backwards. Might work well with Shooting jacks, but I don't think it'll come up reliably. However, keep it in mind, you might just be going to need it.
4) Twister. The mother of all difficult spells. No surprise it's coming from Lady Zerkova. Twister has less power, a smaller AoE, and produces a simple cloud. So it's restricted to LoS blocking, but Lady Z needs that, so that's okay. The benefit of Twister - besides Lady Z being able to cast up to four a turn with the focus sphere - is that, due to the low power, there are more targets available to cast it on. Man-O-War come to mind, Shocktroopers should come out this unharmed. What's also to be remembered is the greylord's blizzards. Ternions tend to hang around Lady Z, so between the Twisters, the moving Jacks, Man-o-War and Greylord Blizzards, there should be enough opportunities to keep her save. Now I just need a shooty opponent who's not heavily into aoe's to test it against.
5) Wind Blast. The one spell from Vladimir Xp that keeps you wondering. It blows away clouds, but it also gives -3 Rat to everyone in the aoe. I, personally, found two ways of applying this. First, you cast it at a ranged unit which generally relies on the aiming bonus. They'll be at an effective -1 when standing still, or they move, which helps with shooting, but may put them into a bad position. Elite Shootist are, however, no good target, as they usually can move and still hit. It also doesn't work against arcing fire weapons or those that don't need to hit anyway.
Second, when facing a unit with assault, you can place it where you anticipate their charge move to end to put them in a bad position when deciding to charge. However, this only works well if you outthreat their firing range or have stealth, otherwise they'll just stand & shoot at you.
There is also a third, and very corner-case scenario. Use this spell to make the High Reclaimer cry silently to himself if he does the old wall of ashen smoke.
Sooo... I hope this helps a bit. It may not be any news to some of you, but hopefully there are some people which rest easier now. Till next time, farewell!