So, today's issue of Khador 2013 will deal with the prime Khadoran douchebag. No, that is not Queen Vanar. No, it is neither the Greylords that make more fellblades in order for more Doom Reavers. Zerkova's pretty douchy in attitude, but she has been covered. No, the Butcher is not a douche, he's... he's sticking to his ideals even closer than to his enemies. Irusk? I admit he's got attitude, but that's still off.
We're talking Andrej Malakov today. God, how I loathe this character. I still wish PP would've killed him instead of giving him a model. I know that I do not hide my disdain for this guy (much like I didn't do it on Dice Rage Live #11), but sadly, I have to admit, he does give us options. And they're not that bad.
So today we'll take a very very brief look at Andrej's stat card - because the guy likes being looked at, and you should not reinforce bad habits - and we'll go right ahead and look for a few plausible choices for him, which Warjacks to run, which 'Caster to assign to, and Sucker! targets worth the mention.
So what the feature most prominently standing out about him (no pun intended)? It's not a FOC stat of 4, and his run-off-the mill attack spell, or his... mediocre-for-a-khadoran-but-actually-not-so-bad-for-a-novice-Warcaster statline. To me (and a number of others), he is defined by two things:
a) his spell "Redline". It's battlegroup only, so only goes on his 'Jacks. It gives +SPD and +STR and damages the 'Jack at the end of it's activation - which means: if the 'Jack runs on turn one, and Andrej moves behind him to slap Redline on later, it won't take damage. That's how Madhammer did it, it's how you should do it, because it's working out pretty well so far. (Ironman quote, yes! Imagining the guy to be Tony Starkesque in attitude, which is not totally unfitting, makes him a lot cooler.)
b) his defensive ability "Sucker!". Originally seen on First Mate Hawk and Madelyn Corbeau, it seems as if Malakov successfully finished "Mercenary 103" at least. The important thing is this: It's not optional. If there is a living warrior model nearby, that model is hit by the ranged attack instead of Malakov, so keep him away from anything with higher DEF, which includes most Warcasters. That being said, he does enjoy chaff troops to keep him company, because if there are no Sucker! targets around, he'll go down pretty hard. Unless you stick him behind a wall, which always is a good plan.
Bonus defensive strategies: with FOC 4, Andrej's CTRL is 8". This is how far behind his Warjacks he can be and still allocate to them. Many people bemoan his lack of survivability, but I think that it's just a matter of keeping him just far enough back. Also, with Redline granting free charges, the Jack in question isn't even hobbled when beginning outside his CTRL! Sure - you should have proper targets to go after, but haven't found that to be much of a problem.
With that being said, what Warjacks should you run with him? Well, since the guy does not have Warjack points, it'd best be cheap, which gives a nod to the Juggernaut, the Kodiak, the Marauder and the Decimator. All of these like focus (and a Stat buff), and probably more of that than a Khadoran 'Caster is willing to give, especially in the case of the Decimator. Andrej however can cast Redline on them, and next turn load them up and get them out there.
He probably NOT suited for the Double Destroyer - a Man-o-War Kovnik can likely do that job better. (Yes. Deal with it. ;-)) I also don't really see the benefits with the Clam Jacks, simply because the Spriggan is expensive enough to make your opponent go after Andrej with extra fervor. The exception to the rule is dealt with below. I'm also not sold on Berserkers with him... because, you know, Berserkers.
Bonus: Torch, Strakhov's 'Jack, actually makes for a very decent choice, too. Pathfinder on the Charge, SPD 6 and a P&S 20 Sustained Attack Chainsaw under Redline are very convincing arguments.
What are good Sucker! targets? Basically, there are two options: very cheap and disposable chaff, or sth. hard enough to take more than once. Here's my favourites:
+ Winterguard Infantry. Just out style reason, for being featured on his picture, and they're dirt cheap, too. They do have lower DEF than him (without UA), so might simply die first, which is fine, too.
+ Battle Mechanics. I guess these guys win, since they're even cheaper, have Iron Sentinel, and can repair Redline damage without breaking a sweat. (because, just so you know, in Khador that sweat would freeze on your face. Very painful, thus no breakin' a sweat.)
+ Man-o-War Kovnik. People prefer the Drakhun, but I think that putting such a strong solo on guard duty for Andrej is not the best choice. I'd go with the Kovnik just because he's 1 or 2 points less than the Drakhun, has as much health and only one point less ARM. And, should Andrej bite it, he could still take over the jacks left in his wake.
+ Koldun Lord. This is choice of trickery, and high in points. But, technically, Andrej can Sucker! a shot to the Koldun Lord, who then Iron Wall's it to a Jack he is marshalling. That should keep em safe, especially if we're talking about an ARM 25 clamjack.
And now, onto the main event: Choice of Warcaster! I'll sort them roughly into Tiers. None is a bad choice for Andrej, it's just that... some 'Casters, mainly those with strong battlegroup abilties, prefer having those 'Jacks with themselves.
Tier 1 (not-as-great-a-choice):
- Old Witch, Harkevich, Vladimir Xp2
These, I think, just lose too much due to not having the 'Jacks in their respective battlegroup. Augury is very strong, and Harkevich is designed around his BG, and Vlad Xp2 has both a BG oriented feat as well as a 'Jack buff in Infernal Machine.
Tier 2 (plausible!):
+ Zerkova, Vladimir Xp, Butcher, Butcher Xp, Irusk, Irusk Xp
These are the 'Casters that either don't care for their BG a lot / are very trooper-focused, or support stuff equally well. They all appreciate Redlined 'Jacks, though they're not exactly supportive for them. Out of these, the Butcher's feat probably does the most for them, while Irusk might appreciate a second heavy he doesn't have to handle. Butcher Xp is in here because... Andrej has a stable FOC stat. 'Nuff said.
Tier 3 (awesome for different reasons):
++ Sorscha, Sorscha Xp, Vladimir, Strakhov, Karchev
Why are these five top tier? That's simple, they all have a bonus they provide even to Andrej's redline 'Jack. The Sorschas and Vlad have boundless charge, which results in a charge range of 11". Beast and Spriggan even threaten 13", and can be fully loaded with draining the main 'Caster. Vladimir also has Sign's and Portents, which makes even Andrej's 'Jack hit better and harder. Karchev may seem oddball, but actually, his main feature isn't. That's right, "Tow" does not specify battlegroup models. With marshalled 'Jacks, taking them on a joyride is stupid, but why should he say no to a redlined Juggernaut, for Instance? And lastly, Strakhov's feat also applies to models beyond his battlegroup. The only thing better than one Spriggan threatening 15" (w/o Overrun) fully loaded with Focus is... two Spriggans threatening 15" fully loaded with focus, right? The opponent has enough issues covering all the angles from one jack w/ bulldoze, with two of those, that could possibly count as maltreatment right there.
Alright, this'll conclude my take on Khador's new premier douchebag. Here's a photograph that really captures the very essence of that model, IMO. Courtesy of PP forum user Maximus.