The Necrotechs Workshop – Why I hate The Slayer Chassis

Well, Sadly for me, I’ve not been able to get a game in in two weeks. Illness and events have surrounded me and its been less than enjoyable. this weekend looks poor for gaming as well, as my wife and I will be celebrating our five year anniversary. The weekend after that looks possible, then I have a possible 32 man tournament, so there will be games! This week, though, I think I want to explore, from a clearly Cryx perspective, why I hate nearly every one of our jacks. This time I target the Slayer Chassis, next time (whenver that is) I will take aim (HA!) at our Crabs 

End to End

I know that I have a perspective on Cryx jacks that is likely different than many other players. While I’ve not been playing as long as some players, I do remember Apotheosis coming out, and getting giddy over the Coven and Terminus. I’ve had an exceptionally long time to play with, use, and digest how our jacks work, what role they play, and how dangerous they are to the opponents army. 

Even though the editions have changed, and the game has evolved and become very different, I do feel our jacks play in the same space that they were originally designed for. There is little with their purpose and scope that has changed, and that can be said for most of the jacks in the game over that same span. Some individual jacks (I’m looking at you, Seether) Have wildly changed their rules from edition to edition, but they have not changed in their vision. Sticking with the Seether, that jack has always been a wild, headlong charge into the enemy to tear them into pieces. The rules trying to emphasize that may have taken turns and look completely different, but the intent, the very purpose of the jack, stays the same. 

Lets take a look at the non-character heavy jacks first. 

  • Slayer
  • Reaper
  • Corruptor
  • Harrower
  • Defiler
  • Leviathan
  • Seether
  • Inflictor

We’ve got three divisions, but they really separate into two chassis: Slayer (Including Seether and Inflictor) and Crab. The slayer jacks have an almost identical statline 

Its a pretty simple, with some really deceptive stats. 

SPD 6 is amazing for a jack, I’m not going to lie. Every other faction in Warmachine is slower. In a game of inches, this often will make a significant different. Every faction has some sort of speed increase for their jacks on at least one caster, so this evens out, in the end. I love they they are speed 6, and running 12, 14, or sometimes 16 inches can really push out the threat vectors. 

STR 10 is underwhelming. It makes even a simple STR 7 light, with some stupid luck, can shrug off an attempted 2h throw. It also makes Slams and Tramples just that little bit more lackluster. The difference between pow 10 and pow 12 is significant, and it pretty much where the game is leveled around. Its small, but its still there, so I’ll toss it on the heap. 

MAT 7 is one of my bones of contention. Due to how the power of ‘Jacks have been creeping up on the years, the MAT 7 has become less effective over time, unless your fighting a specific few factions. Legion, Cryx, and Circle all have hard to hit beasts and ‘Jacks, and that is when the MAT 7 is needed the most. However, it is also becoming the default for an acceptable MAT. Even with the decrease in overall DEF in the transition from MKII to 3rd, MAT 7 is still considered the baseline for acceptable models. MAT 6 just isn’t getting the job done in the vast majority of cases. I used to consider the MAT 7 on the Slayer chassis an amazing boon, a niche product if you would. Now, even though Protectorate has it on a specific Chassis, Khador has it in spades, Cygnar is littered with it, and Cryx has it as well. Instead of seeming like a good stat, the ‘Jacks with MAT 6 look poor in comparison. Even though its only one digit, the power creep on the MAT of Warjacks has really affected how I look at my own ‘Jacks MAT, and not in a positive way. 

RAT 5 is fine. We don’t rely on our shooting, but it does hurt a bit when we look at other factions options that have MAT 7 and RAT 6, but its not allowed on our base jacks. Is a boost in RAT needed? No, I’d be surprised and rather disappointed if that ever happened. With Power Up and Boosting the Reaper and Corrupter are both hitting an average DEF of 16. I’m OK with that as they both have a single shot with pretty solid effects. 

DEF 13. Oh boy! Ready to get me started? I’m sure you’ve all heard this before, and if you’ve any familiarity with my blog, then its absolutely going to ring of repetition. DEF 13 used to be amazing for a jack. Khador had MAT 5. Protectorate had MAT 5, as did Skorne and Legion. Cygnar and Cryx had the best MAT’s in the game at a fantastic 6. Being hit as a Cryx Jack was something that was a difficult endeavor, and it lead to choices in how you allocate and spend your focus. You can swing for the fences, hoping to roll that hard 8, and then start blowing my arms off at Dice +2 or more with boosted damages, or boost the hit and ensure you got that damage in. It was not an easy choice, and it was what made the Cryx jacks even partly functional. Their small grid and their terrible armor were a fair trade off for being exceedingly difficult to hit. Note, though, that even in this time, the ‘Jacks weren’t used. This owed more to the power of infantry than the capabilities of the jacks, though. These days, though, with the prevalence of hard hitting MAT 7 and the widespread use of other jacks, the usefulness of a defense that you hit on 6’s or 7’s is fairly low. This is exacerbated by…

ARM 17 is pretty much miserable.  I get the numerical stat. It shrugs off pow 10 attacks on average. A good spike or a boost can do 3 damage, pretty insignificant to most jacks, that has a 33% chance of taking out a column (1 and 6 both have only three boxes). Boosting 10’s isn’t necessarily efficient, but it can have its uses, especially in volume. POW 10’s aren’t the world we live in anymore, though. From about early MKII, the pow 10 became derided as a stat because it just couldn’t get enough work done, and people started stretching for those sweet pow 12’s and higher. Entire armies can now easily hit POW 12+ on all their attacks, and often with boosted hit or damage ( to solve whichever direction they need). Its Paper mache, and its extremely frustrating.

Paper Mache, you say?

Now that we’ve moved on from the Stats, which is most of the problem, I want to take a look at the grid. This grid. 

That grid is a disaster. It made sense back in the old days of MK I, and for the vast majority of MKII, but these days, it is simply obsolete. 

3 damage takes out 50% of 2 columns, 60% of 2 columns, and 100% of 2 columns. Three damage is greater than 10% of the jacks grid and that damage easily comes from a boosted pow 10. Boosted pow 12’s, which are much more common in this era, tear out a massive 5 damage, nearly 20% of the whole of the jack. 5 damage takes out 100% of 2 columns, 80% of 2 columns, and does 166% of two columns. 

The numbers may look weird, and I’m not statistician, so I don’t claim any sort of factual high ground here, but I do look at these numbers and choke down bile. a POW 12, rolling just above average (8), with no boost, has a 33% chance of knocking out a full column. The same damage roll against Cygnar does 2 damage and cannot knock out a single column, and doesn’t do anything against Khador jacks. comparing outside our faction is generally frowned upon, with good reason, but here I am looking for comparatives. If people have to prepare for more jacks, they have to prepare for the hardest jacks. That means they are generally preparing for ARM 20. They are also preparing for troops, they need to touch a DEF 13 easily. This means that no matter which direction the opponent is preparing, he is preparing for my jacks. boosted pow 10’s take out my jacks and my troops. high pow meant to take out Khador jacks also flattens my jacks, but in spades because everyone needs that sweet MAT 7 to hit troops.  I understand it, but it sucks to get stuck in the crosshairs of both standard tactics and be vulnerable to both. If I put down a Slayer chassis, I fully expect it to die on the way in, which sucks when your forced to take heavies to the fight. 

Claws of Old

The final nail in the coffin is the slayers chassis relatively miserable damage output.  Their deathclaws, a simple POW 16, just aren’t enough to cut it. Even with all the debuffs that Cryx brings, its simply not going to crack enough armor. 5 attacks, even at straight dice, is 35 damage to a Khador heavy. its enough to kill it, but then you have to have enough of those damage swings hanging around to make it worth while. Everyone has more heavy ‘Jacks than Cryx, always have. with the invention of 3rd, however, we’ve moved from having a fairly equal number of heavy jacks – such that trading my jack for yours wasn’t a problem, to the issue now where I cannot get up enough on the piece trading to make it worth it. Yes, A single jack at an equivilent P+S 20 can likely shred every other heavy out there – without shields and buffs of their own, which are all that I see anymore. 

The Sum is Worse Than its Parts

The big thing that makes the slayer so maddeningly terrible, is that it feels like it should work. It feels like there should be something there that could be the start of something good, but its not. Any time I put a Slayer on the board, it takes even less resources to kill it than I would have ever imagined – and I already think they are easy to kill.

In the past, when it was three units, approximately two jacks, and some support, I was able to weather the storm because I had as many units and jacks, and I could debuff a significant portion of it and apply a portion of my army to remove it. With a larger focus on the battle group, there are more models on the board that need a debuff than ever before. None of my army, individually, can take down an equal portion of the opponents. Instead, they need the debuffs to make them an equivalent force. Outside of Mortality, that’s not a thing that can happen to the entire army. 

At the same time that PP has saturated the field with targets that we are required to debuff to remove, they have simultaneously reduced the factions ability to deal with multiple threats. Focus value is up, as we are essentially spending Hit Points to get spells out, cycling is down with Necromancy and Spell Slave being brought in line with expectations, and focus efficiency has been given to all factions. This goes doubly so when your talking about using lower value jacks to try and punch above their weight class because nearly everyone can up their weight class through durability, mobility and defensive measures. Slayers require focus to make enough attacks, and to make enough attacks on the target, and that pulls more focus from the caster and makes them vulnerable. The rest of the factions simply need a buff, upkept from the previous round, and a pair of focus.

It feels bad to play slayers, and even the characters don’t make me feel a lot better. I’m not asking for changes – I don’t expect them, But I really don’t see myself trying to get many of these onto the board without some buffs somewhere to the chassis or an amazing buff caster for them. Even what we have now isn’t really giving me the hope that we can compete on even footing. I don’t want the jacks to end the world, but I surely do want them to feel like I want to take one once in a while. 

Well, next time – Why I hate Crabjacks and other stories!  

 

  • Moondog

    Very well put.

    I know we’ve groused about this before, but I’m still surprised that the developers were aware enough to kick Khador’s heavies up a notch while leaving Cryx’s heavies in pretty much the same spot (which as you pointed out leaves them comparatively worse since so much else got better).

    I feel like Cryx needs to get pushed in a similar direction to either Khador or Ret by buffing either their warjacks or infantry, respectively. I think the meta overall would benefit from the latter. As much as I love running a bunch of warjacks, I think the meta would be better off with that style of list having a few more natural predators (something Cryx used to be great at with just its army choices, but isn’t now due to their infantry melting on sight).

    • Tionas

      Sorry it took so long. These last few days have been weird as hell.

      What I really want from wajacks, honestly, is +2 boxes, Def 14, arm 18 – Pick 2, maybe one. I’d be willing to try one. Its so damned hard to get them on the field especially when its required.

      as for infantry – I dunno a damned thing they can do, other than lower points, on any of these. they “feel” fine most of the time, though I have my pet peeves. Bloodgorgers, Black Ogrun, Revenent Crew, Bane Riders. Maybe they cut down the points on Bane Thralls to 16? I don’t even know then. Its a hard edge to balance.

      • Moondog

        For Cryx Helljacks, I could definitely get behind 2 of those changes.

        I’m honestly a little surprised that they didn’t bump the base chassis to DEF 14. They theoretically parallel warpwolves in a lot of ways so DEF 14 base would make sense. You still need to deal with warjack system issues, but it’d be something.

        The infantry situation is weird. On one hand, the game clearly could use some better infantry lists to diversify the landscape more. On the other hand, I’ve always wanted WM/H to be battlegroup focused with supplemental infantry (excepting infantry based ‘casters/’locks) so I’m pretty happy with the general lay of the land.

        And then there is the factor of how much of it is a meta issue and how much of it is Cryx being potentially overbalanced in the transition. I could definitely see them getting a “deeper cut” pass akin to Skorne at some point. Maybe that is when they give the helljacks overall another stern look.

        • Tionas

          The Bump to 14 is what I want the most, and the thing I think will help the best. Just lower Erebus points by one, or something.

          Honestly, since MKIII started, I’ve been ignoring that it existed and building lists like I always did. its working just fine because few people are bringing all the anti-infantry they used to AND its not as ubiquitous as it used to be, what with lots of Armor targets out there. I mean, Terminus and 60 models? Hilarious.

  • Noah Evans

    The Slayer chassis has a lots of places where it can do work but it’s not really a melee beatstick. Even without its arms it can headbutt and combo strikes on charges can take 1/3 of the boxes on an arm 20 heavy. Finally two open fists is great for clearing zones.

    One observation that changed my mind about Slayers is that they’re not a finishing jack so much as a jack that sets things up for your infantry. A knocked down caster is suddenly vulnerable to our most inaccurate units (eg. Riflemen or McThralls).

    • Tionas

      I can agree that the Slayer Isn’t a melee beatstick – it never really has been, but it was able to trade favorably. It could easily tie up or delay a jack with no problem. Even last edition, when the jacks all were MAT 6, it was still a bit of a pain to have to gamble on 7’s to hit the things. if around half your attacks hit, you likely don’t kill it. 6’s to hit just change all the math. Instead of being a model an enemy jack doesn’t want to get into a scrap with, its instead the other jacks target, and your simply playing into the plans of the opponent to do a lousy 33% of the jack

      That said, the 2h throw, or headbutt, and all sorts of power attacks are great, and they do have a lot more reliability thanks to power up, but again, I get all sorts of systems knocked out due to the shitty grid, and then I can’t do those awesome power attacks.

      I get that slayers are useful for some people, this is just why I hate the slayer 🙂