Yesterday, the 3rd edition of Warmachine was released, publicly and completely* MKII is dead, long live 3rd!
I have, however, had the decks on Warroom since the Lock and Load, and have been looking over the cards for a significantly longer time. Cryx, being my main faction, is what interested me the most. I poured over card after card, looked at each rule and interaction.
And promptly dismissed it all. There is nothing like actual games to make the faction cement. I pulled out my favorite caster, The Witch Coven of Garlghast, and have managed to sneak in three games in the last few weeks. Here is my initial look at Them. I’ll be taking a deep dive with them over the course of the next few weeks.
First, a bit of History.
In the first edition of Warmachine, the Coven was, at least in my mind, the premier assassination caster. With three fully boosted RNG 10 P+S 13 attacks with critical blind on arc nodes that were dirt cheap and could launch from anywhere, alongside the generally squishier nature of casters in the era, I was able to strike from almost anywhere and deliver the killing blow. It was my favorite way of ending the game.
MKII came along, and there were a few changes to the design of both the game and the Coven. The extreme assassinations had been toned down a touch, though It felt like Stryker (Melee) and Caine 2 (ranged) maintained their heights. Additionally, Critical Blind (on three dice with Magic Attack 9) was toned down to Crit Shadowbind, Conjunction was changed from fully boosted to -1 cost, and Stygian Abyss was changed to POW 12. They were still good, but not best in class good, and I was OK with that. Over the edition, though, a significant portion of the game started to ignore stealth, and even more of it bent to blast damage. Many new casters were tougher and more durable, which enabled them to avoid the witch covens assassinations while the game bent towards their natural weaknesses.
Now, 3rd edition has come.
The Witch Coven remain essentially unchanged.
Witch Coven 3rd Edition.
This time around, the witch coven hasn’t changed much, but the world around them has changed dramatically. Gun lines and combined arms seem to be the mantra of the day. Many models that used to ignore stealth no longer do. Focus won’t make you immune to Stygyan abyss, so more models will have less on them.
Might as well make this a Witch coven post, now that I’ve waxed on them. I will also be playing them, hopefully less stupidly, a lot in the next few months to a year, that I want to be able to break them down and understand what I am starting with.
Their stat line is a bit boring:
They have a single melee attack each, with a RNG of 1/2″ and POW 3, netting a gentlemenly P+S 7, though they are Magical Damage.
Each of the Witches, Individually, has 8 HP. This gives the Coven a massive life total of 24, but each one, if you can tag them, are individually weak.
Their Warjack points are a surprisingly low 26, though that is more than enough for what they want their warjacks to be: Arc Nodes.
Finally, their Focus stat is an asterix. This is because, due to the Coven rule, their focus is actually three times the number of living Witches in play. When all three are alive, they are a mighty Focus 9. As each drops, though, they loose efficacy, dropping to 6 and then 3.
Their stat line, as I said, is pretty boring. Their focus stat is amazing, and it is part of why they are as fragile as they are: There are trade offs to be made.
There are even more benefits to come though!
The Coven have three very flavorful and unique rules that are part of their core being and showcase how powerful they are.
The first is Arcane Nexus. This rule states that while the Witches are the Spellcasters, the Egregore is the point of origin. LOS modifiers are made based on the Witches, but the spell still originates from the Egregore.
The second is Coven. This rule dictates how the Warcaster plays as three warcasters and a solo within the confines of the rules. It also tells how the Coven use and receive Focus from the Egregore, and how the Egregore is the foci of the Caster, measuring control range and feat effects from it, and dictating a very important rule: The Egregore can never be affected by rules that cause a reduction or removal of focus. If it weren’t for all the fire everywhere, the Coven could be an excellent play into Protectorate, with all their Focus hate.
The Third rule is the Perfect Conjunction Rule. This is slightly and significantly changed from both the MKI and MKII versions, whereas the previous 2 are generally the same. Here, where before the Witches had to have LOS to each other and the Egregore within the triangular volume between each other, now the Egregore must simply remain completely within their triangular space. Maintaining this specific configuration grants the coven boosted to hits on Magic Attacks. With a Focus of 9 and a spell with a critical effect, is is very useful.
Before I get to the rest of the coven, I want to take a few moments and go over the Egregore, the fourth model, focal point, and solo.
His statline is equally unimpressive
He has three special attributes: Construct, Pathfinder and Stealth. All of these are pretty solid rules that allow it very strong maneuverability and protection. Like the Coven members themselves, the Egregore has his best rules as actual special abilities on his card.
Black Mantle: Gives Friendly Faction models in B2B Stealth, which can be very strong when the opponent cannot see through it, especially for the coven. Once in a while it is also very useful in delivering a heavy or a solo as well.
Sympathetic Link: This model never suffers damage. Instead, it shunts the damage over to the Witches, however the controller desires. With an ARM of 17 and the ability for a Witch to spend focus to reduce damage, it is very easy to tank a whole bunch of damage. It makes the Egregore a very durable and strong model, able to project out into the middle of the army when needed.
it also has Circular Vision, Steady and Companion.
So, back to the fun part of the Coven.
Spell List and Feat
Curse of Shadows – Cost 3, Rng 8. Upkeep, offensive spell.
Curse denies a unit from making free strikes while also allowing movement through and past the affected Model/Unit. It als gives a -2 Arm Penalty.
Ghost Walk – Cost 2, RNG 8
Ghost Walk gives, surprisingly Ghostly for a turn. This spell is importantly not an upkeep. This allows the Scarlock and the Withershadow to cast it.
Infernal Machine – Cost 2, RNG 6, Upkeep.
Infernal Machine gives a friendly battlegroup warjack +2 Speed and Murderous.
Occultation – Cost 2, RNG 6, Upkeep
Occultation grants stealth to a Model/Unit (does not work out of formation)
Stygian Abyss – Cost 3, RNG 10, POW 12 Offensive spell.
On a Critical hit, Stygian Abyss grants the model being hit Blind.
Veil Of Mists – Cost 2, RNG Control Area, Upkeep spell.
Veil of Mists puts a 4″ AOE completely within the Control Range. This AOE is a Cloud that grants Pathfinder too and does not block LOS for Friendly Faction models. Finally, Friendly Faction models can move through Obstructions and other models if they can move completely past them, though it does not grant immunity to free strikes.
Finally, their Feat, Nightfall.
Enemy models within their control area suffer -2 MAT and -2 RAT and cannot draw LOS further than 5″.
Whew! that is a hell of a spell list and a very strong feat! They can easily get off 4 spells in the first round, and one of the cool things about them is that they are individual warcasters, not a unit, so one can activate, cast infernal machine on an arc node, have that arc node run 18″, then later on in the turn arc through it, enabling a number of interesting angles and interactions
What is great about the Coven is they are one of the most significant and reliable delivery services in the faction. With Occultation to grant stealth, Veil of Mists to block of LOS, Ghost Walk to ignore terrain and freestrikes, Curse of Shadows to ignore models and freestrikes and the Feat to completely shut down the opponent, it makes for an effective method of getting our melee focused models into the enemy where they excel. It also creates a pretty solid defense skew for a round, which is nice in cryx.
Starting off 3rd correct at Lock and Load, I lost back to back games with the same coven list, once against protectorate, and once against Skorne. Both times I felt in the game, but wasn’t able to close it out. Hail Mary games just can’t be won all the time.
Satyxis Captain (x2)
Warwitch Siren (x2)
Bane Knights x10
Bane Warriors x10
-Bane Warrior Officer and Standard
-Satyxis Raider Sea Witch
This list was… Well, its not good. It capitalizes little on the benefits that the Coven brings and gives them little to no breathing room. Instead, it focuses on tearing down heavy targets with Dark Shroud, Powerful Charge, and Curse of Shadows while the Satyxis take down the troops. The arc nodes bide their time in order to try and get some good Stygian abysses out into the caster and force a bit more of a cautious gameplan.
It was a plan, but it didn’t work out. The Coven had no breathing room, having to be right up with the army instead of in the back lines using that 18″ Control Range to their advantage. After loosing both games, I knew I wanted a little bit more punch, but I was really missing the Scarlock for Ghost Walk as well as an additional method of getting Stygian Abyss out there.
A number of notes that came up later, including in my third game.
- Satyxis Raider Captains are Knockdown on hit, not Critical Knockdown, with both weapons. That may have changed everything as I seem to remember hitting Feora.
- Ripjaws are 7 points, and with Infernal Machine, Crit Armor Piercing, and Powerful attack, they can be a very strong assassination piece. Definitely a strong compliment to the Nightwretches.
- Lacerators having Magical Damage is awesome, and it really matters to know that.
- Warwitch sirens are great infantry clearing pieces, and I look forward to taking more of them without the express purpose of babysitting a jack.
- I do not want both the Bane Warrior Standard and Officer and the Satyxis Raiders. They both perform the same job. Two min units of Bane warriors will work just fine.
Next time (Tuesday!) I’ll talk a bit about how and what I learned, and how I see the casters list evolving, including new models I really, really want to take!