There is an aspect of this hobby that is both maddening and joyous all at once, and that is the mini Christmas, called new model release. Well, for some of us its called new model purchase or delivery. However, and whenever, you get your new toys, there is this insatiable itch to get them on the table and see if they actually are as good, or as bad, as the internet has proclaimed them to be months ago. I just recently picked up Barathrum and a pair of Shrikes, and I am suffering from the burning sensation to give them a whirl.
The internet is a good place to reverse an ages old adage; it is a place that is to be heard but not listened to at all times. When something catches your eye, you should partake in listening, but overall, even here, make your own judgement and formulate your own opinions. I do this, specifically, in regards to model releases for my two main factions, Skorne and Cryx. I find that, after discovering how each caster works and getting a few games in with them, this is one of the portions that I enjoy tremendously.
Finding ways to get the absolute most out of your models regardless of their perceived power level and finding their niche and exploiting it is of great interest to me. Its become ingrained in me that I don’t judge something until after I’ve used it a few times with a number of different casters, and this time, with Barathrum I’m making sure that I don’t submit to the overwhelming indifference I’ve seen offered on him.
Barathrum is in interesting model to me. He has a number of interactions within the faction that I’m very stoked to experience, but he also suffers from some of the greatest weaknesses that the factions jacks are prone to, while also being a touch more expensive than I’d actually want a jack of his caliber to be.
First, the portion that I like, the abilities that really make me look at him a bit deeper and think that I might be missing something on first blush. We’ll start with the P+S. 17 is pretty solid for a Cryx ‘Jack, when all is said and done, especially with two attacks. That single point is the rather significant difference a P+S 19 or a P+S 20 on a target suffering from Parasite, 22 with Dark Shroud. I’ve dreamed of a jack with P+S 17 for a long, long time, and now he comes along, but the point cost is a touch high, and I’m wary that the points are worth it.
The P+S is strange, too, considering what seems to be his signature abilities are both based on crushing Infantry: Drag Below, Terror, and Countercharge. Drag below is based on destroying, and removing from play living models. I just, as I was reading this, realized that I can use that on warbeasts and Colossals, and my day brightened just a bit. Sending his P+S 20’s in to kill a troll heavy, eating its fury and then moving backwards afterwards seems pretty sweet. I think this gives him a little bit of an edge in an anti-horses list, which is interesting, but may not be the best reason to take him.
Countercharge is one of those abilities that I really, really like in tournament games, but despise in friendly, casual games. There is a very specific point to made here about casual games allowing takebacks, rewinds and other such fun, relaxing habits that allow you to devalue the defensive abilities of your own models, because they never get used. Countercharge is one ability I hated for the very longest of times until I played Rasheth and his pair of Bronzebacks. It made the difference many games either by changing how models acted or allowing me to get countercharges off when I may not have in a causal game. Regardless, its a very good ability that sometimes gets undervalued. in this situation I really like it because it plays into the nerves of the opponent because he has Terror. There are going to be more than a few moments of consternation when the opponent is considering engaging a model near Barathrum with a whole unit, and they have to work through a trio of decisions: Will they proceed with their plan, risking the countercharge and subsequent terror check, will they engage Barathrum, forcing the terror check on their own terms, or will they hold off and try and figure out a way around it. No matter what, I am likely making my opponent second guess himself, and that bodes well for me. Terror, as I’ve mentioned, is an exceedingly potent psychologial tool, even if it only works around 30% of the time.
Barathrum, fortunately, is also quite self sufficient, with a soul drive allocating him an additional focus point. He did lose the Relentless Charge of his predecessor, the Seether, but everything has its downsides. This allows some of the focus strapped casters to get more out of him than they would get out of a normal jack, and potentially free up two points (which you’ve probably used to purchase him) for the warwitch siren. Giving him a free focus isn’t ever a detriment, but sometimes it is simply a break even point. I think that is where we are at with Barathrum.
Finally, among his good points are the related rules of Dig In and Drag Below. Dig in has the problem of being a Special Action, allowing Barathrum to only walk and dig in, giving up one of the few inate advantages that Cryx has over its enemies – Speed. It does make him extremely tough to hit, however, pushing the innately high defense of the Cryx Jacks through the roof, warjackly speaking. Drag Below is a very flavorful rule that allows him to advance after destroying a living model and then dig in. He can, if his stars align perfectly, Countercharge, charge, kill a model and then move back and dig in. It seems both useful and corner case at once.
The big thing, though, for this heavy, is the fact that he’s a fairly expensive Cryx heavy. I don’t think that 10 points is to much to ask of a model that seems, in nearly every way, an upgrade to the seether, but it is very hard to not spring for the extra two points and grab the Deathjack. For those extra 2 points you get higher pow, spellcasting ability, more focus and, crucially, better armor. Sadly, Barathrum is one of the very few Cryx Character jacks to stick to the very vulnerable and easily removed 13/17 model when it comes to defense.
Well, I am going to put him on the table this weekend, and see how he goes. I’ll let you know next week!