Montag, 18. Februar 2013

Khador 2013 - Part 06 "Which Attachment?"


In this article of Khador 2013, I'll try and answer a quite fundamental question:

Should you rather take the War Dog for your Khadoran Warcaster, or choose the help of the other elvish oddparent, Sylys Wyshnallyr?

Before Warmachine: Wrath, the War Dog was the only Warcaster attachment for Khador there was. But when they released the elf, a slew of options opened up. I will strife to answer the proposed question via the following: A) breaking down the benefits provided by each and B) evaluating them on a 'Caster-by-'Caster basis, stating my observations and recommendations for each 'Caster of the Khadoran Warcaster Corps. Hopefully, afterwards, you'll be having less issues with the question.

The War Dog...
... is a 1-point Khador model that grants its Warcaster protection from freestrikes, +2 DEF against melee attacks, and denies the backstrike bonus to models attacking the warcaster - all while it is within 3" of the Warcaster. On top of that, it has countercharge, whose use is not limited to protecting the warcaster, and has some remarkable stats - and Tough. With Steamroller 2013 more or less urging your caster to get up the field (what can you do when you have to, for example, dominate your own zone to score?), the boni provided by the War Dog might see a revivification.

Sylys Wyshnallyr...
... is a 2-point Mercenary character model, which two inhibitors on their own. He makes up for that by taking care of one upkeep by himself with Arcane Assist, by providing a pseudo HoF for the next spell cast via Arcane Secrets, and extending a Warcaster's Rng with his spells by 2" - when casting them themselves, which is what Khador Casters do anyway. And he provides his abilities, except for Arcane Secrets, so long as the Warcaster is within Sylys' CMD, so he can loiter around your backfield quite safely.

And with the two contenders dealt with - what do their respective fans think of them? (For every 'Caster, I list the data most relevant to the two attachments)

Butcher
DEF 14, 2 Upkeeps, 1 Offensive, 6 FOC
While Sylys is good for the Butcher, upkeeping Fury or Iron Flesh for free and extending his spell rng to spread said upkeeps, Obliteration remains a corner-case spell on him. Besides that the Butcher isn't exactly a good jack caster, and tanky enough, so he doesn't need the extra focus. If he is run with multiple jacks, he has better means on quantifying their power through casting Full Throttle. On the other hand, stacking Iron Flesh with the "Guard Dog" benefits takes his DEF up to 19, and camping the remaining focus leaves him at ARM 23. He might no longer contest the flags or objectives, but he'll still be a great threat.
Result: Advantage to War Dog

Butcher Xp
DEF 14, 1 Upkeep, 1 Offensive, * FOC
His only upkeep is Fury, and since his most popular play style involves Doom Reavers (lots of those), it excludes Sylys for not being in the Tier list. His Conferred Rage also mitigates the necessity to hand out a lot of focus - which is random at any rate. So the Elf clearly loses here. The War Dog is in Tier, but it has a different problem: providing benefits to the Butcher might have it end up too close and being victimized due to Homicidal Maniac. In addition, Butcher Xp plays so far forward and is the most constantly threatened of all Khadoran 'Casters that the Dog won't be as big of a help.
Result: Neither

Harkevich
DEF 15, 2 Upkeeps, 1 Offensive, 6 FOC
Hark' is about his 'Jacks, but he lacks a great quantifier like Full Throttle, so he'll have to do it with focus. To that end, Sylys helps a lot, even more so since hark' has a preferred spell he always wants around, and that is Escort. Escort makes the 'Jacks faster, and gives Hark' extra ARM when in proximity to his 'Jacks - meaning that, since they'll be further forward, he'll be right behind them. That, however, is a place where the War Dog is more useful in deterring enemy counterattacks, removing the back strike bonus and giving +2 DEF against melee attacks. In these regards, he is kinda schizophrenic, and whatever is chosen - the rest of the list has to be in harmony with it.
Result: Both

Irusk
DEF 15, 2 Upkeeps, 2 Offensive, 7 FOC
With a 14" CTRL, a feat that affects models/units (and not just models) within his CTRL - and with squishy DEF15 / ARM15 - Kommandant Irusk likes to hang back and watch, which makes him a better target for the Elf. If the enemy comes for Irusk himself, it generally means that they have killed the rest of his army - and then the Dog won't be of much help, even when stacking with Iron Flesh for DEF 20. It should only be considered when the meta sports a lot of flankers, or these are deliberately not cared about (Warning: Risky).
Result: Advantage to Sylys

Irusk Xp
DEF 15, 2 Upkeeps, 1 Offensive, 7 FOC
I haven't played Irusk Xp a lot, but the reasons for his prime version hold true for his epic version as well. That he grants Tough in his CMD range is another indicator that he's safer in the back field. With his feat being a denial feat, there may be a case to be made for playing him agressively, which prefers the Dog. And... ...the Dog is sported on most artworks of him. However, if you're playing the double mortar/FFE game, Sylys takes some strain off of Irusk's focus, which in turn can be put to further use.
Result: Advantage to Sylys (still)

Karchev
DEF 12, 2 Upkeeps, 1 Offensive, 5 FOC
I never played Karchev myself. But from having watched some games, I reckon the following: a) you don't generally cast Eruption (see also this related blog entry), b) Tow or Sidearms are never exactly upkept. That alone are reasons against Sylys, but on top of that, Karchev has Unearthly Rage - a spell that gets more mileage out of your warjacks than any other spell or focus amount ever will. On the other hand, the War Dog is very good for him, especially when you do the Tow-Slingshot - when you turn Karchev around get his jacks facing the enemy, the last thing you want is handing back strike boni to your enemy.
Result: Advantage War Dog

Old Witch
DEF 15, 4 Upkeeps, 1 Offensive, 7 FOC
I have also never played the Old Witch myself, but I've watched  the discussion around it. Many arguments revolve around the necessity of Sylys Wyshnallyr in face of her "Great Power", the potential of running two upkeeps for free, the general squishyness of the Witch that can't exactly be offset by the Dog, and her speed (with Unseen Path) that the Elf can't really keep up with. And I agree that, without a further incentive given by upcoming releases, she doesn't need any help.
Result: Neither

Sorscha
DEF 16, 1 Upkeep, 3 Offensive, 6 FOC
With Sorscha, my personal findings are that the addition of Sylys enables a more "control-oriented" Sorscha playstyle. Two of her three attack spells cost four focus, a massive investment for a caster that, when casting those, also wants to have two focus leftover to windrush to safety. That leaves no focus to boost on critical targets, and FOC isn't that reliable. Sylys' enables her to a) keep Fog of War running as long as she wants and b) make some more aggressive and reliable use of Tempest and Freezing Grip - whose distance is also increased by 2", further keeping her safe. The Dog, on the other hand, provides a no-freestrikes-bubble which is very valuable even though Wind Rush boosts her DEF to 18, and in combination with that and Fog of War raises her DEF against all attacks to 20. So if you build towards personal assassination, you take the Dog, if you aim at a more moderate/controlling/attrition playstyle, go with the Elf.
Result: Both

Sorscha Xp
DEF 16, 2 Upkeeps, 2 Offensive, 6 FOC
My experience with Forward Kommander Sorscha is limited, the only observations are that the Cyclone spell, which provides her additional movement (and attacks) comes with Parry, so that role of the Dog is marginalized, as is the DEF buff since the Iron Flesh can raise her DEF to 19. Since she's also more of a support 'Caster, if you want an attachment, it'd probably be the Elf.
Result: Advantage to Sylys (if any)

Strakhov
DEF 15, 3 Upkeeps, 2 Offensive, 6 FOC
I only watched a few Strakhov games, and he's widely considered to be among the worse 'Casters of Khador. The main thing about him tends to be the feat, which leaves him very far forward - that's a great advantage for the Dog, which can work toward keeping him safe. Even though Strakhov tends to be strapped for focus, I do not see that the Elf would provide him with enough relief (at least, with current builds) so he could play any greatly different.
Result: Advantage to War Dog

Vladimir
DEF 15, 0 Upkeeps, 1 Offensive, 7 FOC
Vladimir's spell list does not lend itself to the Elf -  no upkeeps, only one attack spell, also one of the best warjack-centred feats in Khador... you're out, pointy ear! The War Dog, however is mostly redundant with Vladimir having Parry himself, and seriously oversouling himself with Blood of Kings. So while he supports his stuff really well - he does not need anyone to support him.
Result: Neither

Vladimir Xp
DEF 15, 4 Upkeeps, 1 Offensive, 7 FOC
His first epic incarnation appears to be quite opposite with a lot of upkeeps, so the 2" extension comes in nicely, as well as the arcane assistance - but then again, this Vlad plays 1 Jack tops, so he does not really need to allocate a lot of focus because that single jack can go well alone on just Assail, especially if it's Drago. And then, there's the single key advantage the Dog has over the Elf under Vlad Xp - it can be feated on. A War Dog with +3 to all stats goes a long way to keeping Vlad safe in the post-feat turn, since it'll be hard to take out if someone wants an easier shot at Vlad.
Result: Advantage to War Dog

Vladimir Xp 2
DEF 15, 2 Upkeeps, 1 Offensive, 7 FOC
I, sadly, do not own this model. But: if you play him in Tier, which is a popular and valid choice - you won't have access to Sylys at any rate. And I do not know whether the Dog is, either. Outside of Tier, though, I'm not sure whether any of the two would pay off. I'm probably going to pester @Kriegsspiele for reliable intel.
Result: Neither

Zerkova
DEF 15, 3 Upkeeps, 4 Offensive, 7 FOC
With a whooping four offensive spells (one being an upkeep, too), an artifact that increases range, an artifact that reduces focus cost, a key upkeep and attack spell, Sylys just seems to be Lady Z's soul mate - and she would probably make love to him if he was human and legit, but that's another story. Since her two Tiers do not allow the War Dog, we can leave those out of the equation. And I think that, while the Dog's boni are great in keeping her safe, Sylys with all his support does a better job - and he makes her a better killer via Razor Wind, too.
Result: Advantage to Sylys

Summary:
Both: 2
Sylys: 4
War Dog: 4
Neither: 4

That's a nice, even spread, and the amount of "Neithers" is kinda surprising.
Thank you for reading this far, and if you have any comments, PoVs, or suggestions for further articles, leave 'em below.