The Witch Coven has not been an easy start to MK 3 for me. I’ve been playing them now for just shy of three months and only recently has the style and method of the caster really solidified. Their methodology, while I’ve said a lot here, I seem to always have something to learn about them, about how they play, and about what their goals and desires are. While I’ve a few more games to go yet before I’m done with them (except for tournaments, I Hope their a staple for years to come), I want to take some time and get onto paper what I’ve thought about them.
I think I finally have it. The list that works with me and simply functions the way I want it to. I think, after Iteration and Iteration, its finally here.
If you read the FrozenKommander battle report, you’ll have seen it in the current form. that was the third game I’d used them in, and it sung beautifully.
Witch Coven of Gharlghast
Satyxis Raiders (x10)
– Satyxis Sea Witch
lets pick it apart and see why I like each part, and have chosen it over any other piece I’ve played or theorized with.
First – I’ve done smaller portions of this with other versions of the list. I am, however, pretty sure that this is the final list. (though, honestly, it could change when the Gunslingers come out. Less output, but more range). I’m going to go deeper, I hope, than I have before with other version.
I picked the Witch Coven because they were my favorite caster in MK I, and throughout MK II, they were pretty solidly regulated to the dustbin. Little has changed about them, but the meta changed around them and their ability to deny LOS and impose a penalty on almost every attack roll the opponent makes matters a significant amount now.
What they bring to the table is a suit of denial and polishing abilities to deliver the Cryx army into melee and to enable it to do its favorite thing once it gets there: destroy everything.
Veil of Mists is probably the most versatile spell in the toolkit. With the ability to grand pathfinder, block line of sight (and not block your own) and allow models to move through other models, it has an extremely large pool of useful traits. The trade off, though, is the 2 focus on the caster who is looking to bottom out every turn, hucking spells and allocating the the giant monster from hell off to their collective left. My favorite use of it, however, is to allow you to, with a Fuel Cache, create about 9″ of cloud. Often, in a Killbox Scenario, this cloud will be positioned far enough towards the center of the table that the Coven can hide behind the cloud to get out of killbox and be safe against things that aren’t named Sloan or Caine. Allowing interesting charge angles by being able to move through models, and combined with Ghost Walk, it allows some models to pretend they are incorporeal.
Curse of Shadows is, unsurprisingly, an amazing spell that, when combined with Ghost Walk, Incorporeal from the Soulhunters, and Veil of Mists, can really deliver the army exactly where and how its needed. Why Ghost Walk a unit to avoid free strikes, when you could curse of shadows to lower their armor, too. (well, it costs one more focus, but who’s counting). Additionally, it really helps drive the Soulhunters. Going from Pow 13 to POW 15 on the charge is a significant change, and can tip the scales against a ‘Heavy easily in their favor, especially if they’ve still got a full compliment. With Raiders it ensures I’m doing as much damage to the jack that I can while also causing the opposing caster significant nosebleeds, setting them up for a later assassination. The real purpose, however, is to drop this on a model that the Kraken plans to take out that turn. Going from P+S 19 to 21 is a hell of a difference.
Ghost Walk and Occultations go hand in hand and probably deserve to be in the same portion as veil of mists, as it allows troops to get into position easier, while also allowing them to be protected from reprisal on the way in. Combined with the feat, all of these spells mean that I am going to do my damnedest to ignore the fact that your army is actually there, and I’m going to focus on trying to pull out the guts.
Finally, Stygian Abyss is a great, if unreliable, nuke + debuff all wrapped into one. I would have been more pleased if the spell simply applied shadowbind but, alas, that is not the world we are playing in. All that said, I still think its worth a single shot at a caster when the opportunity presents itself. A single, boosted hit, boosted damage shot costs 4 focus, and has a significant chance of applying the Critical Blind, and can do some damage. I will no longer go in on the triple-Stygian Abyss because its not worth attempting, and doesn’t kill an ARM 14, 15 wound model camping a single focus. Curse of Shadows first actually reduces damage. Anyway! Don’t use SA to try and kill, use it to deal some damage and apply a defense debuff, as well as a power drain effect on the opponent.
The Kraken is a damned bully, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. With Infernal Machine (and god, do I want hunters mark!) the behemoth machine threatens a significant 14″. This, with his Huge base and just a little bit of a push forward, threatens the whole damned killbox. Given second turn and a popped feat, He can easily be on the center line of the table, threatening down to the 38th inch. Additionally, it can also threaten 19″ with its little gun and an extraordinary 23″ with its Main Cannon, while also threatening the 14″ melee. I love every inch of this bastard. When I was focusing on the coven using an overwhelming quantity of infantry, I felt there was something missing. With the increase of the P+S on its Melee weapon to 19, among other changes, the Kraken has become my go to jack for almost every list. Its faster (threat 12″), Stronger (P+S 19+) with Chain Strike to ignore Shields and the ability, if it ever needs it, to allocate itself focus. I just don’t get how this isn’t in every list. Well, that isn’t completely true. Sloan and Caine 2 exist.
This is simple expedience. I need two arc nodes in the list, who hang back and look for openings, and these 12 points are the only points I can spare. The only way I can upgrade them to something with any significantly stronger presence is by dropping the Necrotech, and he’s proven to be clutch in a number of instances, so I’ll not be doing that any time soon. 12 points for 2 arc nodes with the off chance to bite a thing is good enough for me.
The Withershadow Combine
This, along with Orin Midwinter and the Kraken, were the moves that really seemed to get the list humming. While I’ve spent a lot of time putting the finishing touches on the list, without these three parts the list didn’t even feel like it could have a finishing touch. The Withershadow are so relevant in almost every game I can’t fathom taking them out. Many times prior, I’d been a single focus from putting together a top notch plan, but would have to upkeep a spell or two, and the plan would fall apart. Now, I get to keep the focus. Additionally, Marvelous is a Spell Slave, which frees up 2 focus to cast Ghost walk, and sometimes a Curse of Shadows or Stygian Abyss, though the times are rare. Finally, Tremulous has Puppet Strings. This simple ability, changed though it is, is still excellent at insuring against low rolls. Either its there and you don’t need it, which feels weak, or it bails you out of a triple-one situation, pulling success from failure. I’m also a fan of Dark Fire, which is the only thing that Admonia has ever tried to do, though I’ll be pretty stoked when I get to give the Kraken magic weapons. Seriously, and this is no surprise to all the Cryx players out there, the Combine is pretty much mandatory.
Man, I really wish these were cheaper so I could stuff more into my lists. Instead, sadly, they are balanced and I can only have the one. While his repair mechanic hasn’t really had a chance to shine because of Alten Ashley or Stormclads one rounding the Kraken, he has proven himself more than once by simply placing Scrap thralls in positions that will cause consternation. My favorite is creating one, who then trundled over to just outside melee with Eiriss1, and was then shot in the back by, I do believe, the Withershadow combine, exploding Eiryss. Other times I have just had them fill lanes and be generally annoying. Completely worth the 2 points.
This guy deserves a paint job soon, because he is going to be in every damned one of my lists. Aside: His existence is why I need a Kraken in the lists. He sure as shit doesn’t nullify my ability to shoot him in the face with a cannon. His spell nullification ability is so strong. Its limited, but in the same way that the Squire has limited focus. You’ll only need it about the same amount of times you have uses anyway. Keeping him within 3″ of both the Egregore and the Kraken has really been the most complex part, but if I can’t wiggle it, Its the Egregore, every day. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been extremely worried about Arc Nodes getting over to the Egregore and it being spelled to death. While its unlikely, I’m not really a fan of the theory, even, so having it in my pocket is extremely useful. The same goes for the Kraken. Often, there are critical spells that need to get on the Kraken in order to swing the math in their favor, and being able to simply nullify them is simply too good to keep out of the list. In any other list, My Kraken costs 45 points (Orin, two Necrotechs). Orin is the single auto include I’ve had in my lists so far, and its because I seem to always die to spells. No more! Also, His being able to run into position and still nullify spells is amazing. He is, by my estimation, one of the best solos available in the game.
The units here are pretty important, the heart of the list, if you will. While the Kraken is the bulk of the points and is a big bully, the units are what forces the engagement and takes advantage of the feat. With the Soulhunters, its the simple threat range combined with a decently accurate charge attack, which leads to a decently accurate second attack. Reposition is an amazing ability on them, and having them be speed 9 is an enormous boon. As I mentioned with Curse of Shadows, they are able to do a significant amount of damage, on the charge, with their Scythes to heavies, and that is something that I’ve really been worried about, honestly. I expect the Heavy will be out of the meta soon enough, though. The Soulhunters, with speed 9 and reach, threat 14″ Most models have speed 6, so under Nightfall, the Covens feat, many guns threat 11, and melee around 8-10. Soulhunters out threat all but the fastest of them. This enables them to be part of the feat, stay out of reprisal range and still threaten action to most models the following turn. I was so in love with it, in concept, that I originally put two units in the list. It turned out, though, that what I really wanted was Satyxis Raiders
These are the latest additions, and the glue that seems to make the whole thing work. They are shorter in threat range than the Soulhunters, coming in at paltry 12″, but they have something the Soulhunters did not: Quantity. It doesn’t help that they also sport an unworldly defense, especially on the feat turn, and if I can get them into terrain I just get giddy. With Force Barrier to push their ranged def. up to 16, Nightfall taps it a bit higher, to 18, and anything significant pushes them over the top into def 20+. Ghost walk allows them to have only two prayers: Overtake and Force Barrier, both of which you want to use instead of Relentless charge. It also allows them to get into good position to actually use relentless charge, if it is ever needed. Curse of Shadows allows the generally unimpressive raiders to start pushing their damage numbers into very solid territory – Whips go to 13 and Horns go to 12, neither of which is particularly shabby. Veil of Mists can keep them hidden in a forest larger than it should be, if needed. Overall, between threatening infantry and jacks from farther than can realistically be retaliated against, especially during feat, Pushing up defense so high its almost un-hitable, and having two attacks with overtake, the unit has an exemplary suite of options that I don’t see why I didn’t just keep then in, even though I was being told I was crazy for not having them in.
Thanks for reading!