Thursday, September 22, 2011

Samael Hopkins Overview and Tactics

Samael Hopkins is the right hand man of Sonnia Criid and her witch hunters, tracking down rogue magic users and bringing them to justice. Where ever the enemies of the Guild hide they cannot hide for long as Samael Hopkins is on their trail. Seen as some what of a glass hammer Samael is a powerful piece to the Guild arsenal but fragile under the prolonged attentions from the enemy.

Looking over Samael's profile there is nothing in his base stats that would suggest or signify his soul stone cost. All of his stats are average when compared 4-5 soul stone model, the only real thing of note are his weapons weighing both in at cb 6 and his 9 wounds. Just comparing numbers this is where the "glass" part of the hammer is defined.

For such a high soul stone cost model his Defense of 4 means just about every model in the game has good odds at hitting Samael. Coupled with lack of Armor or any other defensive buff means that Samael when not IF Samael gets hit he is going to be hurting. Another lack luster stat for a model of his cost is his paltry Willpower 5, means you may not want to face any Neverborn players or someone slinging the Obey spell.

Arcane Hunter:
This ability gives Samael +2 CB and +1 Dg to any model he attacks with CA 6 or more. Most 6-8 soul stone minions and even a few masters have at least a CA of 6 so are very scared to be in Samael's iron sights. When targeting said models he becomes CB 8, now just about every spell caster in the game is not known for their high Defense. So when you attack with a CB of 8 unless they have some sort of trick protecting them you are almost guaranteed to hit.

Do no underestimate the the +1 dg either seeing as the minimum damage with this ability and his base Colt .45 damage is going to be 4. Again if you are hitting a spell caster they do not tend to have a lot of wounds when compared to other like models. So when you hit, it is going to shave off a third to half of their life in one go.

When hunting down your prey what better ability to have than "Hunter", this gives you the ability to ignore cover penalties when targeting an enemy in obscuring terrain. On top of this you can also see an additional 3" (total of 6") into obscuring terrain. Perfect for when an enemy is attempting to hide in terrain from Samael.

Though I wouldn't recommend it seeing as Samaels shooting potential is higher than his melee potential but he can also see into obscuring terrain and charge his target. Like I said I would not recommend this BUT it should be noted that you can do this so it's always an option should the need be dire.

With this ability Samael is able to ignore severe terrain penalties when moving through terrain. Coupled with the above ability it gives you plenty of options when hunting down models or keeping out of line of sight of an enemy till you are ready to strike. This ability is pretty straight forward there are no "tricks' behind it, but it is a very useful ability when playing in most environments.

Weapon, Huntin' Tools:
When an enemy is wounded by this weapon they will recieve a -2 Walk until the start closing phase. Honestly this ability just doesn't seem to have much use, if you are in combat which isn't a great idea in most instances. The chances of an enemy walking away aren't very high, even if the enemy isn't proficient in melee they don't need to be. They can just wail on Samael and force a few wounds of opportunity on him.

The only good thing about this ability is that it is NOT a trigger so it's a "free" weapon ability that doesn't interfere with any other choices. If the enemy for some reason wants to walk out of combat they will be doing it with -2 Wk. But seeing as they may be held in combat by Samael's Cb of 6 I rather just attack him against his Df of 4...

Rapid Fire [Colt .45]:
For the cost of a discarded card you are able to make three separate Ranged Strikes against the same target. Some people may see this as overkill but it virtually guarantees anything that is fired upon will probably not get back up.. or at the very least will be very hurt and will have to limp away or get finished off by another Guild minion.

With Samael's CB of 6 he shouldn't have a problem hitting most targets with some average flips on his duels. At the very least because he shoots 3 separate times the odds should play in your favor either forcing your opponent to burn high cards to cheat and avoid getting hit, or eventually your deck giving you a high card.

Critical Strike: Huntin' Tools
On the rare occasion that Samael finds himself in a tight spot fending for his life, he always has his trusty Huntin' Tools. Since it is already a Ghosted Suit Samael gets +1 Dmg to all his melee strikes with Huntin' Tools. If he manages to hit with a Ram suited card his minimum damage hops up to a respectable 4 Dmg.

The only "bad" thing about Critical Strike is that usually you see this ability on models that tend to focus more in melee than in shooting. On Samael it is sort of an oddity because you do not want Samael in combat where he is at his weakest. When all is said and done this ability will be used mostly on the defensive unless you are desperate and it all comes down to Samael. On the plus side Arcane Hunter will also work in melee so if anything good can be salvaged of the situation it does give incentive to actually fight when trapped in melee rather than try and run away.

Drain Magic:
After you hit an enemy with a Huntin' Tools strike with a Crows suited card, the controller of the model must discard 1 card. There are times when an ability does not have to do damage in order to be effective, yes it would depend on the situation but it is a nifty option to have up your sleeve.

Again I repeat though melee is not Samael's forte he isn't totally defenseless in a fight, he just better eliminate his opponent before they take a swing at him. This ability reduces an opponents options and anything that limits your opponent be it area denial through card control is a good thing for you.

After you damage a defender with your Colt .45 and it was with a Mask suited card, another defender within 3" takes a 1/2/4 flip. Always a good thing to remember since it is Samael's only trigger for his Colt .45, with the advent of a few lists with tend to group exclusively this trigger isn't half bad even if it's purpose is only to spread damage out among models.

On a side note looking at the V2 card I am not sure if all flips are considered damage flips or not, I have to check the other cards that are currently in print that have "like" abilities. But it does not say it is a "damage flip" so I take it that the enemy does not get "hard to wound". Again I am unsure if this was cleared up, but it is worth asking.

Flaming Bullets:
This is Samael's one and only 0 action/spell and one of his most necessary if he decides (why wouldn't he?) to use his Colt .45 for ranged strikes. On a 9+ of any suit it gives Samael +2 Dg when using ranged strikes until his next activation. When this spell is successfully cast it means that Samael's Colt .45 strikes do a minimum of 5 Dg.

You keep a 9+ in your hand solely for this spell and an additional card to discard for Rapid Fire, no model can withstand three Ranged Strikes with the minimum damage output of 15 if all three hit. If you target a model with Ca of 6 or better your Cb becomes 8 and your damage output with this spell becomes 6/7/8.

Flaming Bullets is the spell that defines the "hammer" part we were talking about earlier, with this spell the damage hits ridiculous levels in worst case scenarios. Now if you actually have the right cards and you can modify your damage flips the damage can one shot most enemy minions without Armor.

You need at least a 5+ Crows suited card in order to pull this spell off, it goes against Willpower and will force your opponent to discard 1 card when taking a Walk or Charge action till the end of the game. Alternatively your opponent can discard 2 cards in order to make this effect go away and cancel Arrest. This is one of those specific situation spells that I am not too convinced if it is worth using a high Crows suited card in order to pull off.

Yes you can make your opponent discard a card to make a move, but usually they only need to move once to be within striking distance when using Ranged Strikes. A melee oriented model would charge straight at Samael and only have to discard 1 card. Your opponent may play off to your gamble and discard 2 cards to end Arrest but it is unlikely it will be two "good" cards unless this is cast late in the round.

Is a short ranged spell that needs a minimum of a 9+ Crows suit to cast and it goes against Defense. If the model fails to resist you place a 50mm marker touching the defending models base, until the model wins a Cb>15 Duel at the start of it's activation it may not move or be moved out of base contact with the marker.

Like Arrest this spell doesn't seem that useful at a glance but as always one should not disregard things at first sight. Being able to ground a low Defense model with a Cb of just 4-5 means the opponent is going to have to waste a high card just to get them out being Snared. Again it is one of those spells that is going to depend heavily on play style and if you are willing to risk very specific cards in order to get this off and ground your opponent.

Looking over the ability from a different perspective there may be an occasion where you would want to Snare your own models. Now hear me out there are a couple of minions you may want from being Lured away from their positions. Namely models who are good with Ranged Strikes yes this seems some what a desperate tactic but at the same time pending on the list you are facing it may seem like a viable option. Do not want to be Lured while Staking a Claim or holding an important position on the board? Get Snared to the spot and just prepare for what may come your way.

With that I know fully completed the Witch Hunters Guild box, as always I am sure that I probably missed something or need something clarified feel free to comment and correct me. The whole reason that I do these articles is to help out the community who seem to think Guild as a "simple" faction. The articles I present is to help enrich the older Guild players with a fresh look on tactics, or give a rundown for the newer players who are unaware of certain rules interactions.

Not sure which Overview and Tactics I will do next as always I am open to suggestions, if you have any questions feel free to ask them I am always available through one form of media or another. Till then folks have a great weekend!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Witchling Stalkers Overview and Tactics

The Witchling Stalker the ever vigilant foot soldiers of the Guild, once they were illegal magic users who were brought to justice. Their sentence was a life of servitude hunting down their own kind where ever they may be. The Witchling Stalker is one of the most versatile minions that the Guild has to offer due to a combination of it's abilities.

A quick look at the Witchling Stalkers stat card reveals that he is about average with most four soul stone models when looking at straight numbers. The only really big departure would be the CA and DF of the model at 5, while it may not seem like much you always have to remember that even if you are losing 1 point difference in totals can make or break certain weapons by causing negative flips to damage.

The Witchling Stalker comes equipped with both a melee and ranged weapon making them useful in any occasion. Truth be told Witchling Stalkers tend to roam the field to hunt down their targets and lock them in combat where they excel. They are excellent either alone or in packs as they torpedo towards the enemy causing as much damage as possible before hopefully exploding.

Though the Witchling isn't very proficient with their pistol it doesn't mean they are absolute rubbish either. With this ability they can see 6" into and within obscuring terrain, in addition they ignore the penalties for shooting into such terrain.

But do not think that this ability is ONLY for shooting, remember that you have to be able to SEE your target in order to charge them. This ability allows you to see 6" into terrain so you could charge a target who is hanging back believing they are safe.

Immolating Demise:
If you are going out, why not go out with a bang? This is a pulse that does 2 damage to everything within 2". This is a pretty straight forward ability your Witchling Stalker should be near or in combat causing as much damage as possible. This makes your enemy hesitate slightly about engaging the Witchling Stalker knowing that if they kill them it will be a hollow victory.

The great thing about pulses is how indiscriminate they are in the mayhem they cause, they can ignore attacking a defender directly and taking such tests. You can run them into swirling combats and watch as they chain explode of each other hurting everything in range. Harmless? Pitiful? Expose Fears? No need to worry since you aren't targeting them there is no need to test and it just becomes straight damage.

It needs to be said that Immolating Demise is useless against Bearskin and Friekorps armor along with a few odd minions here and there. But for the most part just think of this ability as a useful little ability that can be handy in a pinch and you will do fine. Always remember that this ability is just as deadly to you as your enemy so give your Witchiling Stalkers some room to operate when they are low on wounds.

Magic Resistant 2
This ability gives the Witchling Armor +2 against spells and spell effects that cause damage, this usually comes in the form of Arcanists but there are a few models here and there do have direct damage spells.

Remember that spells that cause Wounds will still get through Magic Resistant only because Wounds are different from Damage. I tend to use this ability to mitigate damage when casting Sonnia's Flame Burst into a combat that the Witchling Stalker is involved in. Safe in the knowledge that if I manage to actually hit my own Witchling Stalker he will survive the blasts (most times). All else fails you can be assured he will be down to 1 wound left and you can freely fire into combat after the Witchling Stalker activated, just to force him to Immolating Demise and hurt his enemies further.

This ability allows this minion to ignore severe movement penalties, this ability shines in the example above with Hunter. If you can see your enemy through severe/obscuring terrain you can charge with no problem of slowing down.

I am a big fan of options in any situation, so if you have models that are more mobile or can take a short cut through severe terrain that is a great thing to have. Not many models in the Guild crew have the ability to ignore severe terrain penalties when moving and STILL be a combat effective model.

Weapon,Shattered Runed Blade
Magical, everything after this comes second to this ability in my eyes. With the advent of spirits into the world of Malifaux having a magical weapon is the be all and end all when facing such minions. The ability to do full damage from your weapon that already has an impressive damage profile due to Critical Strike means you can send Spirits packing back to where they came from compliments of the Shattered Runed Blade stamped across their heads.

For the sake of a complete review of the weapon it also has the ability to curb some spell casting abilities. Anyone hit by this weapon must discard a card before claiming a target of their spell, I believe this does not effect spells that do NOT have a target. This effect lasts until the end of their NEXT activation, so the ability will go onto the next turn if they have already activated. But hey when all else fails... it's already a magical weapon and what more can you ask for?

Disrupt Magic
The only (0) action that is available to the Witchlings, it is something that always keep in mind. Since it IS your only 0 ability I would get into the habit of activating this even if you do not think you will be in range of any enemy spells. The reasoning behind this is because it will get you into the habit of doing it often and hopefully never forgetting to use this ability when it might actually matter.

Another good reason to keep activating this action is you never know when you may be pushed, pulled, moved or placed close to an enemy. This could be via a Lure or another like ability, if the enemy brings you close to their lines via a spell they are going to have a harder time trying to cast the spell as long as the Witchling Stalker is alive.

Critical Strike
As always one of the trade mark abilities of the Guild, it is all about damage where the Witchling Stalker is at his deadliest... melee range. Making his average weapon damage of 2/3/5 instantly into a whopping 3/4/6! If you are lucky enough to "hit" with Rams suited card the damage jumps to an astounding 4/5/7.

With a relatively high CB on the Shattered Runed Blade you should not have many problems hitting most opponents on a straight or initial flip. Giving you the slight edge and possibly making them cheat first reducing their options for later on in the turn.

Drain Magic
This trigger goes off when you hit on a Crows suit, it makes your opponent discard a card from their hand. Though this doesn't seem as outright devastating as Critical Strike that doesn't mean this ability is useless. There are certain situations where doing damage is secondary to draining out your opponents hand. Some may even cheat JUST not to get hit and discard the card simply out of spite, but hey this plays to your advantage.

For example lets say you are facing good old Jack Daw, well first off all you have a magical weapon so you are able to "wound" him. Even if you do "wound" him he can discard to stay alive.. well think about when just about EVERY hit he is discarding two cards just to keep Jack Daw alive? Soon that 10 soul stone model becomes a liability for your opponent where he thought it was a power piece.

Reducing an enemies hand size means they have less options, even if they toss "garbage" cards think about a Witchling Stalker attacking someone solely to make them discard cards. Your enemy will laugh throwing out those cards thinking he is safe. Now apply his lack of hand with abilities such as Nino's Head Shot or the Executioner's Decapitate where the opponent must discard 2 cards/soul stones or instantly die? Mind you it has been clarified that even if the enemy tries to heal via Slow To Die and burning a soul stone it will do nothing and he will STILL die.

Reflect Magic
When this model is targeted with a spell that uses WP or DF if you manage to successfully resist with a Tomes suit you automatically toss the spell back at your opponent. While it is neat to get off every now and then it's not something that is reliable as most models that can cast spells either have a really high CA or use soul stones to make sure it is beyond your reach to beat the total.

This trigger is a neat little bonus if you actually do manage to have the cards and the circumstances are right. Just not something I would hinge a battle plan on unless it was absolutely necessary or you get lucky and manage to get the right card on the initial flip.

Dispel Magic
At first glance this spell doesn't seem all that attractive because as a new player you may not fully know what is considered an "effect". Hell most gamers still do not fully comprehend what is considered an effect (myself included). But I have found a very good use for the spell pending on your local meta game.

You only need a 7 or better of any suit to cast this spell on any friendly model even models that are Immune To Influence since it targets DF. Effects have been generally termed as anything that is put on a model that it did not start with. How does this become practical application? Well imagine you are facing a Hamelin player and he is going "Insignificant" happy on your models. All you have to do is cast this spell and no more being Insignificant you can now strike at Hamelin and his crew without incident. Or at the very least you gain a turn where your other models can do some damage or roam about the board.

You can also make certain models discard Body Part, Blood, Eye or Scrap counters with this spell, may not seem like a good thing to do but when you consider some Master or certain Minions require those counters to operate it may be a viable strategy. Also I believe since Tokens are considered "ongoing effects" you MAY be able to take off Blight, Burning and Poison counters, which increases the spells uses.

With that it completes my review of Witchling Stalkers i'm sure that I may have missed something or that there could be a correction here or there. Feel free to add your comments/criticisms or your own thoughts of what you think the Witchling Stalkers can do. I hope to post something new at least once every 8 days if not sooner. I have a pile of painted miniatures that still need to be photographed, but with classes starting I may not get the opportunity.

As always, stay classy everyone.